Peter Brophy – My key takeaways from DPW

It was a great event and I found it to be one of the most informative, innovative and rewarding conferences of the year with an impressive lineup of speakers who shared some amazing insights as well as a broad range of attendees from procurement, technology vendors and a number of interesting startups.

Why was this? Well, it was full of new ideas and great pitches from a number of startups showcasing what their platforms could do and a number of stimulating conversations about the future of digital procurement and the challenges people are facing right now.

Ultimately what the event taught me was an appreciation of how we need to use technology both to automate and to get better data to enable better decisions, and transform procurement from being tactical and reactive to being strategic and adding measurable value.

This has huge implications for the development and sourcing of talent in whatever business or sector you are in.

The message is clear: you need to collect, understand and control your data far more effectively than you have done before and this needs people with greater capabilities around analysing and interpreting data, but also what it means is strategically to engage and influence more.

The market for products and services that can facilitate this shows no signs of slowing down. All three of the Directors from Edbury Daley attended the event and we all had the same concerns raised to us, that all organisations are struggling to find people with Digital Procurement Skills whether in Procurement, Consulting or Technology Vendors.

It is a real challenge to find those who understand the ecosystem and this scarcity has meant competition is fierce and with this has come rapidly rising salaries. It is literally a ‘bidders’ game. The event confirmed what we see and hear day to day.

For Procurement Technology Suppliers finding people has never been harder and if you are looking to recruit you need to think carefully about how you will attract the people you need.

Thoughts on DPW Amsterdam

In person events are gathering momentum in our post-Covid era and are a great opportunity for sparking new relationships and cementing old ones. Last week’s Digital Procurement World was in its second full in-person iteration following the pandemic and with our senior team in attendance here is a bit size summary of what we saw and heard. If you weren’t there yourself it may be a guide as to whether you should attend next year.

Informality.

Matthias Gutzmann and his team made a point of moving the needle from traditional executive business dress towards tech start up ‘wear what we want’ for the event. Whilst this seems unimportant it positively changed the dynamic. A more relaxed atmosphere lowered barriers to conversations between all attendees and speakers and created a higher number of friendly open interactions between customers, vendors and consultants. I even spotted a well established account executive pop back to the hotel for a change from suit to jeans!

Presentation Content

Presentations were short and snappy with main speakers given a 25 minute slot but the punchiness was exemplified by the start-up pitches where 6 presenters were given just 3 minutes to get their message across to the audience. Looking around the room this led to higher audience engagement as evidenced by fewer eyeballs drifting towards mobile phones whilst speakers were on stage.

Sustainability

What really stood out to me was the far higher profile of procurements’ role in decarbonisation than at any previous event. There were specialist carbon accounting and supply chain visibility software vendors and those businesses got more air time on stage than ever before. To quote Pierre-Francois Thaler, CEO of Ecovadis, “More has happened in the last 2 years than the previous 13”. With the forthcoming regulation for carbon disclosure across all the G20 nations, sustainability’s time has arrived. If you are a sustainability tech business should you be switching your presence from sustainability conferences to procurement events?

Attendee Demographic

As you might expect, full suite and best of breed software vendors were there in force as they sought to engage with new and existing customers but how about the corporate procurement community? The consensus opinion was that elite procurement functions were well represented with their leadership but this led to the question of are we preaching the converted in terms of technology? Typically these teams are already well advanced with their digital transformation journey. Is it the rest of the corporate procurement world that we need to be engaging with if the benefits of technology are to be reaped across the board?

In Summary

We loved DPW’s fresh approach to conference design. It was a great platform for us to expand our formidable global network in digital procurement and spend time with some familiar faces, too. The format reduced the sense of vendor and customer and enabled lots of exploratory conversations across the procurement tech ecosystem. If you were there, I hoped you enjoyed it, if not perhaps it will be on your agenda next year.

Crazy counter-offer illustrates extreme hiring conditions

As reported both nationally and internationally the job market currently is unlike any that we have seen for some time with vacancies at record levels and starting salaries rising to reflect a shortage of good candidates.

This is due to a perfect storm of Covid, Brexit and the Ukraine war all adversely affecting Supply Chains and ultimately the job market.

We have all heard that many companies are struggling to recruit but critically now more than ever they cannot afford to lose a key performer as it literally could take months to replace them. 

Prior to early 2020 in a ‘normal market’ once a candidate accepted a formal offer and resigned then in most sectors the deal was done and a company could expect the person to start……

Well not anymore……………companies are literally throwing the kitchen sink at key people in an attempt to retain them.

In fact, we have seen almost as many counter offers in the last year as we have in the previous five years. We have also seen an increase in people leaving organisations within weeks of starting due to a ‘better’ offer elsewhere coming through.

In fact, earlier this year had the most thought-stopping counter offer I (or my colleagues) have ever seen in over 20 years of ‘recruiting’. 

Here’s what happened: 

  • We approached a candidate for a role who was on £60k plus commission.

  • Our client offered him £85k plus car commission and £5k guarantee for 2 quarters so his salary in effect was £100k and he accepted as it was an excellent upgrade in package and opportunity.

  • His MD and CFO refused to accept his resignation. They both individually met with him, discussed their plans for the business and asked for his input on strategy and how it could change to his benefit. They also put in place a number of development opportunities and gave him a team leader remit.

  • They ultimately made a series of counters offers resulting in him being offered a Head of role at £110k plus 2 x OTE commission (inc £25k guaranteed) and restructured the team around him.

Let’s look at that again. 

The CEO and CFO decided losing this person was such a problem they got personally involved and both emotionally and financially did everything to keep him.

They restructured the team and the strategy and gave him an 83% rise in base salary and further 40% in commission plus a promotion to ensure they didn’t lose him.

He will earn £135k this year guaranteed, against £60k before…….

This is how much companies are trying to keep people right now!

Peter Brophy 

VP Digital Procurement and Supply Chain

+44 (0) 7908 440 520

Hiring Market Trends : Digital Transformation Consulting

This article is an excerpt from the Digital Procurement & Spend Management Insider report published in May 2022 which is available to download here.

Much of the recent hiring, particularly in the UK market, has been at relatively junior levels as the major consultancies invest in developing talent for the future — which undoubtedly should be celebrated. So, well done to the likes of KPMG and Deloitte for that.

More senior moves have, not surprisingly, been less frequent in recent months after a busy period last year. But a sign of the success that the major organisations are having are two notable promotions reflecting the importance of digital transformation to the Big 4’s long-term presence in the procurement market.

Eniko Fulop, highly regarded in the sector since her time at Xoomworks, has joined Paul Desrosiers in making Partner at KPMG, reflecting the success their “Powered Procurement” practice has enjoyed, largely in alliance with Coupa. Meanwhile, at Deloitte, Kathryn Thompson has also been promoted to Partner demonstrating her success in leading its procurement practice.

These promotions are really significant for several reasons. Firstly, they demonstrate the growth in this market given that procurement focused partners in the Big 4 have previously been in relatively small numbers compared to other lines of business.

Secondly, it’s refreshing to see outstanding female talent gaining the recognition they deserve in such important organisations. These moves will undoubtedly give them an advantage over the competition in hiring the best female talent in the profession.

One notable senior move is that of Al Adedayo who joins KPMG from EY as a Partner in the operations team. He brings a depth of expertise in procurement and supply chain along with experience in ESG and sustainability that will further strengthen KPMG’s position in the sector.

The other big news in the sector focuses on important strategic acquisitions. Buying Xoomworks will give Accenture a huge opportunity to capitalise on its strong reputation, particularly in the mid-market with Coupa, in the UK, France, Germany and the Nordic countries.

These are territories that are clearly seen as having real growth potential by Coupa given the aforementioned hiring of salespeople in those countries. So expect to see the combined forces of Xoomworks and Accenture win some major projects there. Commenting on the acquisition in October, Jan Van Den Bremen, senior managing director and Accenture’s Intelligent Platform Services Europe Lead, said:

“Intelligent platforms and ecosystem partners play a pivotal role in bringing together the major capabilities needed to run a modern enterprise and take advantage of new business models. With the addition of Xoomworks, we are expanding our deep technology expertise to further help accelerate the path to value for our clients at speed.”

PwC’s acquisition of supply chain and IBP specialist Olivehorse will give it a unique offering to the market given its track record with SAP and Anaplan. Alistair Kett, Consulting Supply Chain and Operations Leader at PwC, was quoted on the PwC website at the time of the announcement as follows:

“I’m delighted that Olivehorse are joining PwC. By combining our capabilities, people, networks and credentials, we are reflecting, in very real terms, our ambition to invest and grow quickly in this market. The challenges facing the UK and global economies in the field of supply, scarcity and disruption will all need innovative and technology-enabled solutions and our new joint team is very well positioned to deliver these.”

With the increased competition in this market for the major transformation projects along with the need to adapt to the evolution of the market through the ever-increasing array of best- of- breed tools, what is the future for the other SME niche specialists, like ExceleratedS2P, in the sector?

Not forgetting Deloitte’s acquisition of Keytree late in 2020, the trend does suggest that these smaller organisations will be acquired by the big players intent on adding customers, talent and capability through acquisition to boost their presence in the sector.

However, the emergence of Lance Younger’s ProcureTech and other smaller niche providers cropping up across Europe suggests the market will continue to evolve, maintaining the choice available to CPOs.

It’s worth noting that in the UK, where a change in tax regime has had a significant effect on the interim market, there is a small but growing trend towards experienced contractors with similar skillsets collaborating on implementation projects, which in some cases is creating micro-consultancies with deep, specialist implementation expertise, particularly in P2P and S2C.

We expect they will continue to thrive as a less costly alternative to the big-name consultancies, but like most areas of this overall market, there are only so many good people to meet the growing demand, so competition for their services will remain strong.

Hiring Market Trends : The Corporate Procurement Market

This article is an excerpt from the Digital Procurement & Spend Management Insider report published in May 2022 which is available to download here.

In the previous edition of this report from Autumn 2021 we reported that the corporate market was the one market in the digital procurement ecosystem that bucks the wider hiring trends given the relatively small amount of hiring activity on the open market.

We noted that a survey of CPOs from The Hackett Group reports that over 40% of those surveyed had identified the need for specialist digital transformation expertise but had yet to create a role within their organisational structure.

There has been progress, mainly from the procurement profession’s leading CPOs and their teams, but specialist roles dedicated to identifying, implementing and adopting the next generation of procurement tools remain rare, particularly on the open job market.

One notable exception is at Maersk where Paul Bray has used his considerable experience in transformation consulting (Ex Deloitte, IBM Atos) to recruit a team that will work closely with the procurement function to develop the range of solutions at their disposal.

Paul has hired Adam Brown, the former Head of Digital Procurement Garage at BT Sourced and Laurence Reddy, previously at BP where he worked on its SAP Ariba capability to play a key role in this process.

Both are widely respected by their peers and offer a depth of expertise that is still rare in the current market. Many organisations are still relying on consultancies for the sort of specialist expertise they bring to Maersk, but even those consultants tell us their work would be more successful if more of their customers made this sort of appointment.

Adam’s experience of building BT’s Digital Procurement Garage with CPO Cyril Pourrat has given him a unique view of the entire procurement tech ecosystem, and few can match his knowledge of the range of best-of-breed solutions available to the CPO. We asked him for his insight into how he sees the procurement tech market evolving in the next few years:

“By definition, paradigm-changing innovation tends to come from start-ups rather than incumbents. So, if we want to look to the future digitisation of procurement, we need to look at the start-up industry. “Of course, start-ups will typically have investors who demand a return, which means pressure for an exit, either acquisition or IPO.

The acquisition will often be from a large company, such as Microsoft and Suplari, Fieldglass/Ariba and SAP, etc. Once acquired the innovation often slows, as can the responsiveness. If this happens it will frustrate the original customers who bought into innovation and agility.

“Big enterprises like and need a steady state with their systems stack and this almost goes against innovation. This will also mean that the large enterprises will find it hard to innovate. If they implement some cutting-edge tech now and define a TOM to get the best use of it, this will then mean the enterprise as a whole will benefit from an acquisition and the de-risk it naturally brings. However, this will frustrate the individuals who collaborate on a daily basis with the start-up when the innovation and agility naturally slow.

“Big enterprise is complex, both requiring and desiring point solutions that go deep into digitisation of a process because they require (and can afford) the depth. Breadth across the process will be given by multiple solutions all going deep into their areas and aligned with subject matter expertise areas in the organisation (such as risk and security).

“The SME marketplace tends to require a point solution for a specific problem (such as risk, spend analytics, demand workflow) and then a lighter touch on adjacent process elements (e.g., I need deep spend analytics, but also some simple initiative management off the back of the spend).

All of this considered, there is a very high potential for divergence in the digital procurement solution marketplace being driven by investors, customers, ability for the founders and owners to resist a push in a direction they do not want.” It will be fascinating to observe the evolution of the market over the next few years to understand whether Adam’s concerns about innovation are realised.

On the subject of hiring activity at CPO level, whilst the general trend has been for increased vacancies, the market at a senior level appears to be quieter and actual appointments at CPO (board)

level are much lower than we have seen for some time, with fewer than 20 moves in the past six months.We have seen more activity at Procurement Director/VP level, but still much quieter than the general market and, in fact, in Corporate Procurement, for salaries above £120K, there is nowhere near as much movement as at lower levels.

Hiring Market Trends : Supply Chain Sustainability & ESG Solutions

This article is an excerpt from the Digital Procurement & Spend Management Insider report published in May 2022 which is available to download here.

The market for supply chain sustainability and ESG solutions has been a fascinating one to observe in recent months. In the final quarter of 2021, the demand from the growing number of exciting software companies with an ESG/sustainability focused solution for the supply chain remained strong with growth in headcount across the sector, particularly in the UK, Germany and Nordics. These regions appear to be the main locations for start-ups and scale-ups in the ESG world.

Circulor continued to strengthen its sales capability by hiring Rhys Mason from Givewith and Christian Jones from Authenticate IS into its team based in the UK. It also added Jon Hughes to lead its expansion in America and Werner Busenius as VP of Sales in Germany, but has since lost both Paul Clayton (formerly COO) and Veera Johnson (Co-founder) from the leadership team.

Vizibl has been gradually adding critical mass to its team as it builds its sales and delivery capabilities, something we’ve seen from a select group of leaders in this market. However, overall the flurry of hiring activity in this market has slowed noticeably from last year in the early months of 2022.

A popular theory is that, with the exception of a handful of leading organisations such as Unilever and Bayer, putting ESG and sustainability at the heart of supply chain strategy is still viewed as desirable rather than essential.

So, whilst the procurement profession and particularly members of the Sustainable Procurement Pledge are doing an admirable job of raising awareness, profile and the importance of their mission, the heat does appear to have gone out of that market a little, or to put it another way, this market is still more about talk than action.

We asked Simon Geale, who plays a lead role in Proxima’s work on ESG, what he is hearing from the market. He told us: “You can look at sustainability through a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty view right now. On one hand there’s never been so much positive intent as there is now; it genuinely feels like many are past the tipping point.

On the other hand, progress is at a fraction of where it needs to be, and most organisations are being side-tracked by battling supply availability and inflation. Day-to-day reality is trumping progress on long-term strategy in lots of cases.

“In many ways the narrative on sustainable procurement seems to be some way ahead of the reality, but we need to use this as a means of inspiration rather than frustration. The pieces of the jigsaw are falling into place around us (such as the recent SEC Climate Disclosure announcement) but with no real common standards, progress is different across different organisations in different sectors, feeling different pressures.

“There also are lots of competing priorities on the CFO’s table right now, all putting pressure on the bottom line. A lot of the big-ticket sustainability programmes need short-term investment to harvest long-term benefit, and this short-term ROI challenge, or an inability to sell the case, may be hindering immediate progress, but probably not long-term ambition.

“Perceived inaction is exacerbated by the fact that it is a difficult market to make sense of, if [you are] not in it day to day. Green bottlenecks are appearing in supply markets, marketing messages are flooding the communications channels, tech start-ups are appearing every day making all sorts of claims, and a lack of precedent means there is a gap in skills and literacy to address. At the same time procurement teams are generally facing up to a number of other fires to fight.

“But there is progress. If you want inspiration look no further than World Sustainable Procurement Day earlier this year. Thousands of procurement and sustainability professionals coming together to collaborate and share ideas. There wasn’t a big-event machine behind WSPD, it was passion, collaboration and word of mouth. And it was huge! It also pointed towards another trend likely to come from more purposeful business strategies — collaboration. I’ve never seen collaboration on this scale, and that’s really exciting.”

How long will it take for the growth in this market to mirror that of the wider procurement and supply chain tech markets is an interesting question, one that we will continue to observe through our ongoing work in the sector.

Hiring Market Trends : Digital Procurement & Supply Chains Solutions – Moves, Trends & Predictions

This article is an excerpt from the Digital Procurement & Spend Management Insider report published in May 2022 which is available to download here. 

We have seen a large number of career moves within the sector in the past six months. Following is a summary of some of the most notable along with a number that illustrate the overall trends in the market. Whilst Coupa may recently have lost long-standing and well respected senior sales leader Mark McCarthy to Accel-KKR, it has been very active in the hiring market for salespeople, in particular in the UK, Germany and other key European markets.

In addition to its well respected enterprise sales team led by the likes of Will Goodall and Andy Lightfoot, its UK mid-market  sales team has ten people — quite large by sector standards. It includes recent hires like Joe Catling, formerly of Proactis, and Sarah Kingdom-Evans, who joined from BravoSolution, now Jaggaer.

The addition of Carl Thompson (ex-Medius) and Tomas Berry, formerly of Basware, into their pre-sales teams demonstrates just how active Coupa has been in recent months in hiring from other established vendors in the sector. The situation is similar in other European countries, most notably Germany.

Not to be outdone, Jaggaer has also been very active in strengthening its sales teams across the continent. Justin Sadler-Smith has been rewarded for his performance in leading Northern Europe with a promotion to Senior Vice President of Sales for Europe. Having recruited Simon Thompson (UK) last year, he has further strengthened his leadership team with another hire from SAP Ariba in Fabrizio Fassone, who joined as Regional VP for Italy in February.

Paul Rutten joined late in 2021 from Ivalua to lead the Benelux region and Jaggaer also made some new additions to the DACH team along with the vast experience of Alun Moore (ex-Basware) in the UK who joined in January.

Claire Coupar has also joined Jaggaer from Proactis in a Value Engineering role, and with Martin Hayles promoted into the Global Alliances leadership role it really has been a busy period of progress at Jaggaer.

Basware in the UK has also seen significant change with Paul Taylor leaving the sector entirely, Lisa Pace joining Coupa and pre-sales specialist Kelly Lambert joining Medius. However, Basware has added the experience of Mark Fleming (ex GEP, Emptoris & SAP Ariba) and is actively hiring into what will be exciting roles with the new ownership likely to be in place soon.

On that subject, the acquisition by the Accel-KKR-led consortium is viewed by many as a good move for Basware given the history of the investors in the sector. If you also factor in the recent recruitment of sector expert Mark McCarthy by Accel-KKR — with his impressive track record, including over six years with both SAP Ariba and more recently Coupa where he played a key role in their success story — you can understand the optimism.

With significant investment, its strong offering in networked P2P provision should be increasingly competitive and we expect to see the firm actively hiring in the coming months. GEP has made a series of hires across Europe, the highest profile of which is Arthur Dobma as Head of EMEA. He joins after thirteen successful years at SAP including leading sales across Northern Europe for the SAP Ariba line of business. His team includes Karen Merrill, formerly of IBM Emptoris and Chain IQ.

Proactis has a new Sales Director in John Joyce, who takes over from Alex Ashley-Roberts who has moved into a Group Marketing leadership role. Exciting news in the best-of-breed world includes the return of Richard Hogg to the sector in a new role at Scoutbee where he will be General Manager for EMEA leading the company’s sales growth across the region.

Richard has previously held various leadership roles during a lengthy stint at BravoSolution before leading sales across Northern Europe for Jaggaer.

Mark Masterson has left his position as RVP of EMEA Sales at TealBook, which has since promoted Mo Ahmad into an interim General Manager role for EMEA. He will continue to lead alliances in the region.

In specialist contract management solutions, both Icertis and SirionLabs have been very active in the market across Europe. Piers Bishop made the move from Icertis to SirionLabs late last year where he is now AVP Sales UK, Ireland & Nordics, and Icertis has built on the growing Germany operation and now has approximately 35 people in the UK.

SirionLabs also added Andy Mellors from Jaggaer but has lost Carina Hoogeveen (formerly of Coupa and Icertis) who is now working as consultant-cum-CMO for several organisations including Rosslyn Data Technologies. Rosslyn has itself been through a period of change with Paul Cook and Nadia Law the latest to leave. Paul has followed some former colleagues to Simfoni.

In the world of Supply Chain Finance (SCF) we’ve seen some interesting developments. One big move has been that of Mirco Roeben who joins C2FO as their Managing Director for the German market. Mirco is ex-Taulia and has a strong track record in the SCF sector.

On the subject of Taulia, following the acquisition by SAP it will be interesting to observe how it incorporates its offering into the wider SAP portfolio, and specifically how closely aligned it will be with the SAP Ariba line of business.

Clearly, companies like Jaggaer, GEP and Coupa have big ambitions for further growth. The trends they illustrate of hiring proven performers in the procurement and supply chain solutions market, who are already comfortable in front of a relevant senior audience, is widespread across the sector. They have been successful for a number of reasons: their ambition, products, leadership, great investment and the career opportunities they are able to offer — but not everyone can compete with that.

In client-facing roles of all types, whether they be sales, presales, account management, customer success or professional services, almost every hiring manager we speak to wants to hire someone with the aforementioned sector expertise. Companies need people who can have an impact almost immediately, so the thought of hiring people who need to be developed over time is not one that appeals to hiring managers under pressure to deliver results for expectant owners and investors.

With the increasing headcount that we are seeing across the overall market, these trends are causing the skills shortage that exists in the sector.  Similar trends are visible in other high-growth SaaS markets like Security, Data, Infrastructure and CRM.

In the longer term, the sector will need to address this problem, because demand continues to grow at a faster rate than anyone can increase the supply through the long-term nurturing of talent. Outlined below is evidence that the consultancies invested in this market understand this, but the ‘Big 4’ in particular have always been great advocates of hiring and developing graduate talent. Start-up and scale-up SaaS businesses don’t necessarily have the infrastructure or resources to follow their lead.

Video – Why are Procurement Conferences so vital to successful hiring?

Talent spotting, nurturing long-term relationships and assessing both the calibre and personal characteristics of the people we meet are just a few of the benefits of attending in-person events in the Procurement Technology world.

This short video from Andrew tells you where it fits in our range of candidate sourcing tools and why it’s so vital to our success.

If you are hiring into your team, don’t miss out on this useful intelligence!