Talent Intelligence – The Future of Procurement Technology Recruitment

In a fast paced market like procurement technology, service providers like us can’t operate in isolation. Whilst our deep market knowledge has enabled us to see the patterns and market trends as they emerge, we need to stay close to our clients to understand their challenges and adapt our services to meet their needs, now and in the future.

So our recent client audit was undertaken in order to understand what our clients truly value in our services. We wanted to know what the expectations were from the digital procurement community and how those expectations are likely to evolve in the future.

It’s been a fascinating, rewarding process giving us vital information.

We’ve used that information to help refine and improve our service delivery and define the value we add to help potential customers understand what we offer.

This is the result:

Imagine the benefits of partnering with a recruiter that has deep sector knowledge. One that maps the market and knows it intimately, often identifying a company’s recruitment requirements before they are even aware of their own needs. One that boasts a strong network of contacts and pre-qualified candidates.

A recruiter loved by its candidates because it invests time to get to know them, offering regular advice and giving feedback, leading to a more streamlined and professional recruitment process for all involved.

An agency that doesn’t simply tick all of today’s ‘must have’ boxes but, with an eye on tomorrow…

One that has the vision to recognise that, as technology advances, it must anticipate change – in order to help turn visions and innovations into reality – by providing its clients with the right talent in a manner that enables great hiring decisions.

But who presents themselves as that recruitment agency for today and tomorrow? A company that’s passionate about finding the talent that will shape the future of procurement by utilising technology, making it innovative and exciting? A true specialist that invests considerable resources and doesn’t work anywhere else apart from in the procurement technology sector.

One that connects great talent with career development opportunities that result in successful long term appointments, business success and fulfilled employees.

Combining all of our skills and sector knowledge gives us a unique asset and point of difference. It’s the added value that’s a game changer for our clients and what they value the most. We call this Talent Intelligence and if you work with us, it will positively transform how you source your talent, now and in the future.

That’s our commitment to you, that’s what makes us the solution for companies operating across the digital procurement ecosystem – solutions vendors, their consultancy partners and the end users – the cream of the procurement profession.

And the benefits of using Edbury Daley don’t end there. Keeping a close eye on tomorrow, we promise that no matter how quickly procurement technology evolves, we’ll always be there, evolving alongside the market to put the right talent within your reach.

We see things before our clients do – some evidence.

When you have an intimate knowledge of many of the key players in a specific market, you’ve met their people, you’ve helped them hire for key roles and you’ve headhunted people on their behalf from their competitors, it gives you a unique insight into those companies, their people and their place in the wider market.  

Here are some examples of how we’ve used that information to help customers solve problems they were still in the process of identifying.

“Our sales team isn’t up to it”

The new Sales Director of a software firm I know well told me: “I’m not sure about the quality of the sales team I’ve inherited.” I replied: “I am, they aren’t up to your standards.”  He asked why and here’s what I told him:

“I have tried to headhunt some of them in the past and wasn’t impressed at all. They haven’t hit their target in the last two years – that’s why your predecessor got sacked. Morale is low, they all want to move on and if they were top performers they could command much higher salaries in this market. I do have some good news for you though.”

“Oh yes, what’s that?”

“I’ve known we were going to have this conversation since the day you told me you were joining the business and I’ve got some better people in mind for you once you are able to start hiring.”

So now we are working on bringing some of those people in to change the dynamic of the team. He’s working on developing the best of the people he’s inherited and has made some changes elsewhere.

Our insight gave him a head start.

“We need to focus on our customers”

We could talk about several organisations that aren’t investing enough in customer success. They work very hard to win those customers through competitive sales processes then risk losing them with poor implementation and adoption thereafter. Sound familiar?

We will focus on one solution vendor that we know well. I was aware of their specific problems and it was my view that they needed to hire the very best the market could offer to address the various issues their customers were facing.

When they came to me with a requirement to hire into their team I told them very plainly: “you aren’t paying enough for the people you need.” I gave them examples of the people they could afford and I presented two much stronger, more costly candidates that I thought they needed.

There was lots of discussions about budgets, talk of internal barriers and other challenges, all of which I completely understood. Eventually the hiring manager followed my advice to at least meet with the more experienced, stronger candidates to make the comparison. He hired the most expensive one.  

When he called me to thank me for risking my relationship with his HR team by consistently telling them what they didn’t want to hear he said: “In the end, the additional cost on salary is a drop in the ocean compared to what this person will save us in lost revenue by keeping our customers. Thank you for your insight and putting him in front of us.”

“Our digital transformation is floundering”

A CPO told me that her adoption of a full-suite solution wasn’t going to plan. I said: “I’ve heard as much, that’s why I got in touch with you.” She asked how and I told her: “From people involved with competitor vendors and consultancies.”

One of the things you learn when operating in a niche market is that it’s a very small world and people talk, often to ex-colleagues in competitors. So word spreads fast!

She asked me what other CPOs are doing in similar situations. Of course every organisation and every transformation program is different, but I explained that what I was starting to see more of in the market is the hiring of a specialist in this area, someone who has been on this journey in their career before, someone who understand the challenges, the opportunities and the bumps in the road and who can guide you through it all. 

We talked about the availability of such skills, the cost, the interim and full time options available. She’s now building a business case to gain internal budgetary approval to make that hire. I hope she gets it because the people I have in mind for her could make a big difference to the success of this project.

 

Client Audit – what our clients want from a specialist recruiter

At Edbury Daley we take enormous pride in what we do. We are truly invested in the success of the businesses we recruit for and the job satisfaction and career development of the people we help them hire.

Our personal and company reputations, along with our commitment to winning repeat business through service excellence, are all vital factors in the culture of our organisation.

With this in mind, we regularly review what our clients think about the service we offer to them, what’s important to them and what we could do better. We want to understand the problems we solve for them, the outcomes our clients are buying and how our services might be adapted to ensure continued success.

In our recent client audit, we received some vital feedback that will help you understand what our customers value about us. While there are some examples of the feedback below, what became clear to us during this audit is that the things our clients really value about Edbury Daley are:

  • The depth of market knowledge we have and how our visible commitment to the procurement technology world enables us to act as a Talent Magnet for our customers.
  • The breadth of our international network allied to our strong personal reputations.
  • An intimate understanding of the supply and demand equation for the skills and experience required for success in this market.
  • This enables a speed to market and a targeted approach that other recruiters just can’t match.

We call this collection of vital knowledge and skills Talent Intelligence. We’ll be telling the market more about the benefits of this in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, here are some examples of the feedback we received from our clients.

Member of the Senior Leadership Team at a Global Procurement Software Business:

What business problem did filling your position solve?

We are expanding and accelerating a go to market strategy in an area where we lacked internal expertise to support our goals or objectives. We were hiring to accelerate the growth and sales (revenue) of the company.

Apart from filling the vacancy was there any other aspect of our service you found valuable?

The network or relationships within the space you have and the quality of candidates that are actually pre-qualified and have a demonstrated interest in moving for the right opportunity saved a tremendous amount of time and resources that we don’t have available internally.

HR Leader at the same business:

You know how much we value you, your expertise and our long term relationship with you. I have nothing to say but positive things. 

EMEA GM Global Procurement Software Business:

What business problem did filling your position solve?

Filling a business critical Exec to lead a fast growing Top Growth Region for our business.

How has the candidate we placed impacted your business?

He’s a strong leader infusing best practices to our business…no doubt about his direct performance/impact on our business in his region.

Apart from filling the vacancy was there any other aspect of our service you found valuable? Please specify.

Your commitment to the result, strong candidates (three of them could have done the job). The people to people relationship resulting in us understanding and trusting each other.

What could we have done better?

Overall was a great experience.

If a trusted friend or colleague asked what you thought of us what would you say to them?

Strong recommendation.

CTO Procurement Solutions Business:

What business problem did filling your position solve?

Skills and experience to lead our data function. He has implemented a data warehouse and taken all business reporting in hand.

How has the candidate we placed impacted your business?

He has had a hugely positive impact on the business and brought order to chaos in our data function. He has now been promoted to Head of Technology.

Apart from filling the vacancy was there any other aspect of our service you found valuable? Please specify.

Andrew helped me scope the must have and nice to have elements of the role so that we were able to find the right candidate. We had to flex on location. This has worked out well.

If a trusted friend or colleague asked what you thought of us what would you say to them?

Andrew has always provided me with an excellent service. His consultative approach, knowledge of the procurement technology marketplace and his network are in my view the keys to his success.

If these messages are relevant to your current business needs and you want more information now then please get in touch.

The Procurement & Spend Management Job Market – Four things to watch for in 2020

As keen observers of job market trends, it’s already clear to us that there are several factors likely to impact on the procurement world and wider professional employment markets in 2020. Here’s what to watch out for:

  1. Procurement Technology gains more traction?

Will 2020 be the year when the leading CPOs truly start to covet digital procurement skills?

We think so. Momentum has been building slowly for a while and the conversations we have with many leaders tell us there is more appetite now than ever.

The catalysts for many companies will be more focus on training and development supported by key strategic hires, often from organisations that are already innovators in this area.

Hiring people, who have been on the digital transformation journey and know the route to best practice use of tools like SAP Ariba, Coupa, Jaggaer and Ivalua will become increasingly common creating a more competitive market. It’s a finite pool of people, many of whom have been waiting for the opportunity to be the architect of this transformation for forward-thinking CPOs as the next chapter in their career. We’re excited about working on these projects.

        2. More growth for the solution providers?

There is already expectation in the market of a big hiring push at Coupa in 2020. The talk at Coupa inspire was of a planned investment of $55m in product development with strong rumours that this will be supported by aggressive hiring. 2019 saw significant PE backing at several vendors, most notably Ivalua and Jaggaer, and of course, investors will want a return on that investment which will typically include growth in both sales and headcount.

We already know that SAP Ariba are set on continuing their aggressive growth strategy including the protection of their existing accounts which is always supported by excellent talent acquisition (watch out for some high profile arrivals there in January 2020).

Meanwhile, new ownership at Wax Digital pushes them up into the bigger leagues. It’s expected that the investment will make them more competitive, both in terms of hiring and product offering.  Plenty of best of breed solutions will look to build on strong performances in 2019 so the market should continue to thrive.

The battle for talent in an already competitive market will ratchet up a few notches in 2020 and we can’t wait – it’s what we love.

      3. UK Election result brings more certainty?

It feels like a dangerous area to get involved in predictions, but we can’t ignore it.

Theoretically, the decisive result of the UK election is expected by many to mean some improvement in the wider job market. The theory being that the country can now hopefully leave the last three years of Brexit related inertia behind us, meaning companies are more likely to increase investment.

However, we still have uncertainty given that the big question remains about the impact of Brexit. Talking to people in positions of influence in the market, the feeling is one of cautious optimism based on the theory that finally getting on with it has to be better than what’s happened over the last three years.

Companies can now put plans in place for life with the UK outside the EU. Procurement and technology can be at the heart of the changes and whilst we don’t expect to see big headcount increases in the corporate world, increases in demand from the vendors and consultancies, along with a less cautious approach around replacement headcount generally, should see a gradual upturn in job market activity for the procurement world overall.

      4. Tough year for the UK interim market?

April 2020 sees the introduction of IR35 into the UK private sector and it’s very hard not to see it having a negative impact on the interim market, certainly in the short term.

It’s going to create uncertainty for employers, contractors and recruiters will push employment costs up and the early evidence is that it will drive some contractors back into the permanent market. This is because they fear reduced demand for their services and the financial incentives to work on a contract basis have been eroded considerably.

For some companies, it’s going to present an opportunity to hire some seasoned former interim professionals on a full-time basis, and this could be particularly helpful to the consultancies who are battling to hire valuable yet scarce skills around P2P/S2C transformation projects.

Companies that really need the flexibility offered by the interim workforce will be faced with either increased costs (day rates, employment and admin costs) or finding a way to adapt their philosophy to help them navigate the rules of IR35. Companies that are able to do the latter have an opportunity to hire some great interims who will be attracted to projects that fall outside of IR35 whilst others get to grips with the new regime.

A note of caution – there are already some alarming stories circulating about people’s perceptions of how a contract role can fall outside of the IR35 legislation. It is important to get really good advice on this, ideally before you go to market for the skills you need to hire, so you know whether your project is likely to be affected or not because the cost implications of getting it wrong are significant.

If you need some guidance, please get in touch.

Procurement Leaders – The Talent Attraction Reality

We attend a lot of procurement conferences and events and as a result we hear a lot of CPOs talk about their businesses, their priorities and their objectives.One of the common themes is the attraction and retention of talent.

In a recent report on the Future of Procurement by SAP Ariba they quoted some interesting statistics: 63% of procurement leaders do not have an established talent management strategy. The main barriers to achieving organisational efficiency enabled by digital procurement are:

Lack of data – 23%
Budgetary restrictions – 19%
Lack of internal talent/knowhow – 17%
Shortage of external talent – 13%

So when you combine the two figures for talent shortage (internal and external) you get 30% which effectively makes it the biggest barrier to organisational efficiency.

So CPOs are making all the right noises about the importance of people but what is the reality?

Or to put it another way, is procurement making savings or adding value in the recruitment process?

Procurement has gained significant savings in the recruitment category over the past 15 years. The implementation of PSLs and the leverage of the company’s buying power yielded easy wins. But with many recruitment companies now operating at tight margins the opportunity for further savings seems limited.

In light of this Procurement needs to add value to the business in terms of supply of recruitment services. Rather than view recruitment as a commodity to be bought mainly on price is there opportunity to find value? Let’s not forget, barely an annual report is published without a CEO reminding us that ‘people are our greatest asset’. So why is such a business critical category reduced to the lowest common denominator?

The commonplace commoditisation of recruitment is underpinned by the binary perception that a vacancy is simply either filled or not filled. Therefore it is just a question of filling the position for the lowest possible cost. To move away from this view requires insight in to time to hire and performance of the new recruit over a sustained period of time.

The first variable is easy to measure but a little harder to evaluate, particularly for highly specialist positions where the potential candidate pool is small. For example it’s unreasonable to compare time to hire for an office based admin position, where the candidate pool is huge, to time to hire for a rare skill set position, where only a handful of relevant candidates exist in a given geographical region.

Nevertheless, the recruitment supplier’s ability to find and place candidates as quickly as possible undoubtedly has a clear value to the hiring company, therefore should be part of the supplier selection criteria.

The second variable is the performance of the new recruit over a period of time. Anecdotally, most senior managers will know who their star team members are and who are only just meeting the minimum performance requirements. However, turning this into quantifiable data is a real challenge. And how often does the senior manager trace back the origins of the high performer in terms of which recruiter sourced the candidate, and then use this information to influence the choice of recruitment supplier going forward?

The typical PSL based contingency recruitment supplier arrangement serves to reinforce the commodity view. By instructing, say, three agencies on a vacancy using the ‘no placement, no fee model’ urgency is created amongst the suppliers. This helps minimise time to hire as the agencies race to ‘win’ the fee but incentivises the suppliers to submit only candidates they can access immediately rather than seek the best possible fit for culture and performance potential which may be a little more time consuming. In other words the long term value to the business may well have been sacrificed for speed.

Much is made by forward thinking procurement leaders of supplier relationship management. By forming a true partnership with suppliers they can create an opportunity for collaboration and innovation that benefits both supplier and customer. Examples cited often come from the procurement of components or raw materials but could this extend to recruitment services?

We have written many articles on how companies can improve their talent attraction, streamline their selection processes and get a deal done with the right candidate. Our knowhow and experience has the potential to be a game changer for a customer looking to be better. Will procurement embrace that opportunity?

Movers and Shakers

blog-pic-movers-and-shakers

Leadership change at SAP Ariba EMEA

The big news in the sector so far this year is that Paul Devlin, EMEA General Manager of SAP Ariba left the business just before Easter. Devlin was a highly respected leader with a strong sales background and great passion for working closely with his customers. He was a key part of the growth of Ariba in Europe since the SAP acquisition and will be a significant loss to the business.

His move to Edenhouse keeps him firmly in the SAP Ecosystem and it will be interesting to see if they enter the Ariba market under his influence to supplement their strengths in SAP and specifically Success Factors.

However, the business has moved to restructure the sales function under new global leader Pat McCarthy who is highly regarded, particularly in the US. McCarthy reports into the President Barry Padgett who took over after Alex Atberger’s move to SAP Hybris at the end of 2017.

The excellent commercial team assembled by Devlin is part of his legacy to the business, and in former Emptoris stalwart Justin Sadler-Smith, the business has a very experienced leader in the UK. His background will make him the ideal person to leverage the huge potential of their partnership with IBM on cognitive procurement.

Justin’s boss Dean Pathak continues to lead Northern Europe with Patrick Hyati leading the southern half of the continent. Both have impressive teams including a newly appointed Sales Director in France.

In terms of consulting, implementation and customer success, there has been some senior level restructuring rewarding a number of high performers with bigger roles.

In summary, SAP Ariba looks as well set to attract and retain both enterprise and midmarket customers as ever despite the departure of Devlin.

Shares rise as Coupa hits profitability

There’s also a positive outlook at Coupa where they have reported a first quarterly profit and a healthy share price which is bucking trends in US markets weighed down by a potential trade war.

Diginomica reported that “Coupa announced a strong end to their fiscal 2018 as the spend management firm turned in its first non-GAAP quarterly profit of $884,000, on revenues up 41% year-on-year to $53.8 million. Subscription revenues were 46.6 million, up38% year-over-year and comprised 87% of total revenue.”

CEO Rob Bernshteyn commented: “From a financial perspective, just three short years ago, over 75% of our new subscription revenues came from our core procurement applications. But today, that figure is less than 50%, with more and more coming from expense management, invoice management, supplier information management, and a host of other key offerings.”

Coupa lost an established, well respected European leader in Alex Kleiner last year. Their European Marketing Director Carina Hoogeveen also left, following Alex to Apptus. Both have since left Apptus with Carina joining Icertis, the cloud based contract management business who have been hiring aggressively in the UK in past six months.

In our last report we covered the news that long time European GM Gerard Dahan had left Ivalua to join Determine last September. Ivalua moved to replace him with Franck Lehereux joining from JDA Software early in 2018.

Acquisitions & Mergers

There have also been significant changes in ownership in the sector, most notably Jaggaer’s acquisition of BravoSolution and what was effectively a reverse takeover of Perfect Commerce by Proactis.

It’s still relatively early days for both newly formed organisations. There were a number of departures at BravoSolution in the US shortly after the deal was announced but the European businesses are largely untouched so far in terms of headcount. Given Jaggaer’s relatively small presence in Europe prior to the deal, this seems sensible.

It will be interesting to observe if there is any further restructuring, redundancies or senior hires, and of course how they intend to align the various technology offerings now available in both
newly merged companies.

More recently Advanced Solutions acquired Science Warehouse for £16m as part of their ambitions to grow its portfolio of cloud based solutions. Science Warehouse has an established client base which is at its strongest in the UK public sector including the NHS and various Universities.

This article was originally published as part of our Spring 2018 Procurement and Spend Management Insider Report. To read the full report click here.