Monday, 15 December 2008

Chemical Industry Purchasing in a Downturn

Fuller details of the course can now be found in the following attachment.

Please contact me directly if you need any more information.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Open Training courses in March 2009

The dates and titles for our open training courses are;

11th March 2009 - Market Research for the Chemical Industry
12th March 2009 - Chemical Industry Purchasing in a Downturn.

Both courses will be run at The Heath, Runcorn, Cheshire.

Fee for the courses is £350+VAT, discounted to £300+ VAT if you book before Christmas 2008.
There is a further 10% discount if you book a place at both events.

Further details and booking form to follow.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Chemical Industry Training courses

We are pleased to announce that we will be running 2 open training courses in March 2009 in conjunction with Robert Milner Associates. The courses will be held at Runcorn Heath, and the dates are being finalised.

Rob's will cover his expertise in Market Research and Analysis.

I will be running an event on Purchasing and Supply Chain Management in the Chemical Industry. What I am not sure about at the moment is the precise title. I am torn between doing a standard event, and tailoring an event to meet the needs of the Industry in the current downturn. If you have any views, I would be delighted to hear them.

Further details to follow.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Why didn't we see the crash coming?

Well, it is clear that some people did.
Michael Lewis, who wrote the excellent "Liar's Poker" about Wall Street in the 80's has written an illuminating piece for Conde Naste talking to some of the people who thought that the recent boom was built out of not sand, but hot air.

Very interesting. Click here

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

What crisis?

Just back from a course in Cairo with oil and gas companies. They were most interested in this "credit crunch" affecting the West. They have heard about it, but it in no way impacts their lives. I am tempted to say yet, but for the moment at least it is passing by the Middle East.

What is effecting them is the sudden exodus of Indian workers, who are apparently packing up from the ME and heading home to India. The booming Indian economy is driving up wages, and the poor exchange rate is making it attractive for many Indian ex-pats to return home - either to work or set up their own businesses. This is creating a vaccuum of skilled personnel in the ME, which is being filled by contracting with Indian firms. So, the same people doing the same jobs on higher wages, with the profits going to India. Interesting.

What will also be interesting is if the gap is filled with Chinese workers - that would change the look of the Middle East.

Monday, 3 November 2008

The Gold Rush

Now that Beijing is behind us, activity is really beginning to speed up for London 2012 - at least if the flurry of notices being published on the compete4 website is anything to go by. With the credit crunch beginning to bite on the rest of the economy, there must be even more attraction to gaining business on London 2012. That is one project that the government and country still need to ensure works, and is in a strange way not a discretionary public expenditure.
If you have not registered by now, you should have a look.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Forthcoming Training Courses

I shall be leading the Purchasing Negotiations Workshop in Dubai from Sunday 19th October 2008. There are still places for this course available, so if you are interested please give me a call. The course lasts 5 days and costs $3500.

I shall be on holiday in France the following in week, and then running The complete course in Purchasing Management in Cairo. This 5 day event is run by a separate company, and costs $3650. Again let me know if you would like to attend.

I shall then be presenting at the Business NorthWest conference on 20th November 08 in Manchester, before heading back to Dubai for the Certified Purchasing Professional: Professional Purchasing skills, which is also 5 days but costs $3550. I think the extra $50 covers the costs of the accreditation process.

There will be a host of courses in 2009, and we are thinking of staging our own public courses in the UK for the first time. The first event will be in Q1 2009 in the NorthWest of the UK, and be a one day event. The topic is being agreed right now, so if you are interested and have any preferences please let me know - it might mean we run exactly the course you are looking for.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Recession Proof your Business - Business NorthWest

I shall be speaking on "How to weather an economic down-turn – Ten Top Tips to recession proof your business" at the Business NorthWest exhibition on Thursday 20th November 2008 at 10:15 am. I will be part of the EEF World of Work Theatre, which is a sizeable venue - so there will be lots of room, and hopefully lots of attendees.

The Exhibition is at Manchester Central, more familiar to some of you as G-Mex. I have been attending the exhibition since it started, and recently visited the sister event Business Yorkshire. I have found them to well organised, well attended and very interesting.

I hope to see you there - as I have said a lot recently, if people are not interested in this topic now I don't know when they will be.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Lessons from the XL crash

The big news on Friday was the collapse of the UK's third largest travel firm XL. The bigger news today is the collapse of Lehman Brothers, which has far bigger implications. Both offer lessons for businesses in difficult economic times.

Reports on Friday indicated that XL's problems quickly escalated after the newspapers reported early signs of financial problems. As a result their suppliers cut credit terms, insisting on cash payment for fuel and other essentials - turning the drama into a crisis. Did the suppliers drive XL into bankruptcy, triggering the scenario they feared?

Cashflow during a recession is a particularly nasty game of pass the parcel, with no one being able to afford to be left with the debt and not the cash. On the other hand, no one wants to force customers out of business.

The emphasis has to be on controlling cash, and insuring that payment terms are not extended by stuggling customers who just pass the problems down the supply chain. You also do not want to force your suppliers out of business by paying them late, and depriving yourself of potentially key materials.

The best practice is to audit the supply chain, looking for signs of potential weakness in suppliers and developing alternatives - either other suppliers, or in extreme cases taking over the supplier in order to ensure continuity of supply. There will also be opportunities for leverage cashflow for price reductions - discounts for early payment may be more attractive to suppliers than in times of easier access to finance.

Threats of recession can become self-fulfilling prophecies, as companies hunker down at cut back on both sales and production, and stretch payment to suppliers - triggering a general slow down across the whole economy. They can also be great opportunities - if no one else is advertising, then your message will stand out. Struggling competitors may not be selling hard, and customers will want to buy from suppliers that can demonstrate a strong position. Competitors may also be up for sale, and premises may be more affordable then recently.

Of course it is essential to have adequate cashflow in order to take advantage of the situation, so again - it is necessary to review both customers and suppliers on a regular basis, and to develop a range of alternative action plans to avoid becoming a victim of these times.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Beijing 2008

A couple of weeks before Beijing 2008 I had the pleasure of attending a seminar given by Prof. Steve Haake of Sheffield Hallam University about Newton, Physics and Sports Science. It was one of the few events I have been to where the whole audience would have happily stayed twice as long.

During the presentation he talked about work his Sports Engineering Group had carried out for Team GB cycling ahead of Beijing 2008. Without giving too much away, he told us that every single aspect of the bikes had been studied - and to demonstrate it showed us graphics of the calculated airflow over the nuts holding the peddles onto the bikes.

The value of this phenomenal level of detail in preparation was demonstrated as the cycling team romped to 6 Gold medals out of 10 during the Olympics.

It made me think about what we in business could learn from this attention to creating the environment in which our team members can perform - and know that there is no excuse for not performing to the highest level. I suspect that very few companies could claim to do much more than getting of their employees way, rather than actually giving them all the tools to do the job and resolving any problems getting in their way.

Food for thought...

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

PAWA is 10

Today is the 10th anniversary of PAWA Consulting Ltd.

I would like to thank all the clients, colleagues and friends who have helped us to reach this milestone.

Here's to the next 10 years!

Paul A Wright

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Paul Wright Logistics

Just to help clear any confusion - PAWA Consulting Ltd has no links to Paul Wright Logistics, despite the fact that both work in Logistics and are owned by a Paul Wright. In fact, I had never heard of them until someone rang me up looking for them - and so I have no idea about their activities

This adds another potential confusion, as in the Sports business world I am occasionally confused with Paul Wright, the Head of Business Development at Sky Media. To try and avoid that I try to give my name as Dr Paul A Wright - not that it always works.

I never realised what a common name I had. A cursory Google search shows that there are also Paul Wright's working in naval logistics, estates agents and as a Christian Rockstar in the USA.
Maybe in future we will all have to give our children unusual names.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Hold your horses...

The economic news is relentlessly bad - rising prices, rising inflation, credit crunch, falling house prices. So like any sensible purchasing consultant I have been dusting off material from the last slow down, looking to have answers for clients who want to know what to do during a recession.

However during the course I ran earlier in the week, the topic never came up (and only came up once in the previous course). Far more important to the delegates was the management of relationships with suppliers, and with customers.

Just a reminder to all of us that while it is good to be prepared, we can't focus on one issue when others might be more important - even if that single issue is the state of the economy.

Friday, 6 June 2008

The Gathering storm

During a course last week a delegate asked a very interesting question - they often do. Even though we were talking about Supply Chain Management, he was wondering what would happen to sales prices for their company during the much predicted forthcoming economic down turn. He had already described the company as having a unique technology, and so the answer I gave was that prices should be firm but volumes may be doubtful. Their customers may decide not to carry out projects, but if they do carry them out they would have to buy from my delegate's company and though the customers may try to put pressure on prices in reality the choice is buy or don't do the project. A good salesman should be able to resist price pressures in those circumstances - at worst giving away a little to maintain good relationships.

The problem for sellers in a downturn is always discrecenary spend - do we need to buy a new tv, car, shirt? Or can we make the existing one last a little longer? That is where there is real downwards pressure on prices.

An interesting view on this was given by the economist Elizabeth Warren in a speech that I came across in David Hepworth's blog (founder of Word Magazine). It helps to explain why at the end of a long boom we don't feel better off - many of us have a huge personal financial committment, and little discretionary spend. So, we are much more exposed to the consequences of a downturn than previous generations even though materially we are better off.

A long but interesting lecture, even though it is focussed on the American rather than European middle classes.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Pricing in a rising market

With the current strong concerns over rising prices of fuel and raw materials, it is becoming more important than ever to be aware of market movements. There is considerable talk of pressure on margins because of rising costs, but we should never forget that some suppliers will be looking to increase margins during this time. They will rightly assume that we are expecting prices to rise - but that many people will not know by how much they should rise, and will consequently ask for a price that both covers costs and increases profits.

Perfectly reasonable, but as buyers we need to be on our toes to watch out for it.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Masouf Street


No prizes for gussing where I am - the picture shows me with a couple of delegates from our current course at Giza yesterday. Today I was wandering the back streets of Cairo, where I came across Masouf Street. This is one of those streets that provides a reminder that not everywhere is the same as western Europe - practically every shop specialised in bearings - mainly SKF and FAG (arch competitors in the same shop). At the other end of the street all the shops, which were little more than lock ups, were car dismantling and repair shops. How they all survive is a good question - though maybe it is because of Cairo driving. I have never heard the expression as scary as a Cairo taxi ride, but I would like to stake a claim if it is new. How I have not seen an accident I will never know. The way they manage to make 5 lanes out of a 3 lane highway is a wonder.

Eqyptian civilisation is 5000 years old at least, and appears to have spent most of this time perfecting the hard sell. I am considering sending my negotiation course delegates out on the street with 10 pounds and telling them to get some practice in haggling!

Monday, 28 April 2008

Hints and tips for writing winning proposals

First, remember that whoever is doing this probably has a lot of bids to read – and a day job to go back to.

1. Be concise – buyers don’t want to have to wade through 2 inches of paper
2. Answer the question – the one asked, not the one you want to answer, or feel they should have asked
a. If you want to answer those as well, but always answer the question as asked
b. If the ITT asks for a day rate give a day rate, not an hourly rate
3. Be clear
4. Don’t be fussy or too ornate
5. Give information in the requested format
6. If you have an alternative proposal include it as well as the requested proposal not instead
7. Include all the documentation requested
8. Look at the scoring mechanism – it will remind you what is important
9. Don’t be afraid to repeat information in different sectons
a. Sometimes proposals are split up, and it makes it easier to read if the information is repeated rather than being told to “see section 10) – remember a happy marker is your friend
10. Don’t let the proposal look like it is a proforma or knocked off by the office junior in their lunchhour
a. Good quality paper, glossy covers help – origami does not

Remember that the buying team can either evaluate bids or answer your questions about when the process will be complete – not both

Running a Tender Evaluation Process

As I gear up for part 2 of the tender evaluation process, I thought it might be helpful to summarise some of the things that the process has taught me or reminded me about;

For Buyers
1. think about how you will score bids when you write the ITT
- it will save time and help to ensure that you get information in comparable formats
2. Leave sufficient time to evaluate the submissions
a. It can take a long time to do justice to a submission, maybe an average of an hour per submission. Make sure that bidders are aware that the process will take time
3. Only mark what is in the proposal
a. Tempting as it is when an existing supplier does not do themselves justice the only fair thing to do is mark them on what they write – other bidders might also be underselling themselves
4. Specify how you want the pricing information
a. Day rate or hourly rate, and what levels or job titles – these can vary a lot between suppliers, so is better that they work out how their fits your requirements than you spend ages trying to work out whether an Executive is senior or junior to an account manager
5. Be clear about what you actually want and what is important – how you will distinguish between bids
6. Score the bids the way you said you would –
a. Which requires thinking about it first, so that you don’t give equal marks to a company with good policies, but no quality of work, and a brilliant supplier who forgot to include their environmental policy
7. Be clear about the financial critieria
a. Do SMES and new starts really stand a chance?
8. The people who write the ITT should be the people who mark the bids (or at least part of the team)
9. Remember that you can get jaded evaluating bids
a. Leave a day a week for other work
b. Consider taking an hourly break on a 48/12 minute cycle
10. Your idea of a good bid can change as you read more bids
a. Consider going back and rescoring the first couple of submissions again to ensure that scoring is consistent
b. Don’t always start with the same bid when evaluating muitiple submissions- move through the alphabet, or order of receipt
11. If something is not included in the submission or not clear you can ask for further information – as long as all bidders get the same opportunity

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Current projects

This week Paul is running a week long Purchasing Negotiations workshop in Dubai. He is contactable after 1pm UK time, thanks to the 3 hour time difference.

At the moment we have a wide range of projects underway - as was highlighted in a communication with a government department. I think it gives a good indication of the scope of things that we tackle.

Current projects we are working on (April/May 08) include;
- mapping the sports industry in Yorkshire, with a particular focus on R&D activities
- developing the 2012 strategy for the UK Resource Centre for Women in Science Engineering and Technology
- Reviewing and auditing the Chemical Innovation Networks Sustainable Manufacturing Project for the Northern Way
- Lecturing in Negotiation in the Middle East
- Gathering output data for UKTI in the North East against ERDF targets (and also for a NW based medical incubator)
- Running a marketing tender process for Business Link NorthWest

Amusingly, on the way out to Dubai I was on the same plane as the Paul Wright who works for Sky - not the first time that we have been confused.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Tender Evaluation

At the moment I am taking a break from a massive tender evaluation programme - 15 lots, and 94 companies bidding for multiple lots. As a process it will take the rest of April.

When I am writing proposals, it is easy to forget what is going to happen to them when they are opened. In particular it is easy to remember how long it takes to write the proposal, and not to think about how long it takes to properly interpret them.

The companies in this process are no doubt eager to know whether they have been successful, and where they can improve if not. They should be reassured that this is being done thoroughly and with all due consideration - but it takes considerable time.

It does remind me though that effort put into presentation is valuable - as is reading the brief, and answering the questions asked. Obvious, but true.
A surprising number of submissions fail those simple tests.

Another reminder, is to think about how you are going to score the tender as you write the ITT. Precisely how will you assesss Quality, value for money or innovation?

Survey of Yorkshire Sports Businesses

We are carrying out a survey of R&D in Sports Businesses in Yorkshire. If you work for one, and would like to take part please click on the link below.

Many thanks

Click Here to take survey

Friday, 28 March 2008

Tender Evaluation

PAWA consulting will be evaluating tenders for Business Link NorthWest in April.

Current indications are that all courses in April and May will proceed as planned, which means that the next event will be Purchasing Negotiations Workshop in Dubai from 20th April 2008.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

March Purchasing Management Course cancelled

The Purchasing Management Masterclass scheduled for Kuala Lumpur on 14th March has been cancelled. A replacement date will be found for later in the year which does not clash with Easter. The course has been considerably reworked since December 2007, and so I am looking forward to running the new version later in the year.

I am afraid I forgot to mention the Improved Buying Negotiations course at the EEF Sheffield Association, and so the next open course will be the Purchasing Negotiations Workshop in Dubai from 19th April 2008

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

London 2012

There is a new website listing all the contracts available relating to the London 2012 Olympics bid www.competefor.com

In theory not only the lead contracts will be publicised here, but sub-contracting arrangements from all suppliers should also be listed. How well this will work in practice, we will have to wait and see - but the people at the ODA I have spoken to are clearly committed to using the opportunity of London 2012 to improve some of the standard procurement processes in the UK public sector (particularly in construction).