Optimising procurement value-add in services-based organisations

How can services-based organisations leverage procurement to drive more value for money?

Episode highlights

Learning from the transition from buying goods to services
Extending the boundaries of procurement's involvement
Procurement's strategic alignment with the c-suite
Measuring value vs savings
Delivering outcomes via cost or value based models

Posted by: ZivioReading time: 91 minutes

With Navid Amin, Head of Procurement, WSP

00:00:00 - From supply chain to direct to services procurement
00:10:10 - Learning from the transition from buying goods to services
00:19:00 - Extending the boundaries of procurement's involvement
00:27:30 - Procurement's strategic alignment with the c-suite
00:31:00 - Measuring value vs savings
00:42:40 - The evolution of procurement of a discipline
00:48:10 - Taking supplier relationships to the next level
00:56:20 - Delivering outcomes via cost or value based models
01:07:00 - Predictions for the next 12 months in procurement


Jonny Dunning:   0:00       Alright. So here we are under the bright lights in London Bridge. And Navid Amin, Head of Procurement at WSP - official title. Thank you very much for joining me. 

Navid Amin:         0:12       Thank you for having me.

Jonny Dunning:   0:13       How you doing? You alright? 

Navid Amin:         0:14       Good. Thank you. 

Jonny Dunning:   0:14       Excellent stuff. So, we got various things to talk about today. And I think there’s some areas that I would like to delve into just in terms of your own specific experience.

Navid Amin:         0:26       Yeah. 

Jonny Dunning:   0:26       There’s some areas where I am really interested in your opinion. 

Navid Amin:         0:29       Sure. 

Jonny Dunning:   0:30       And there’s probably a few areas that we might end up having a little bit of a debate about. 

Navid Amin:         0:33       Of course. 

Jonny Dunning:   0:34       But I think the key thing that I would like to dive into today is just understanding procurement challenges from the perspective of services based organization. 

Navid Amin:         0:44       Yeah. 

Jonny Dunning:   0:46       Now, this conversation kind of came about through us having a prior conversation, where we were just discussing this, and some of the points that you were bringing up, I found really, really interesting. I just thought, this is the sort of thing that people need to hear this type of conversation. 

Navid Amin:         1:02       I hope so. 

Jonny Dunning:   1:04       You better live up to expectations.

Navid Amin:         1:06       And also, quite the buildup.

Jonny Dunning:   1:10       Anyway, talking about build up, how about we start with that? So, do you want to just give us a bit of background on how you got into the industry? And what is it you describe it or your wife describes you as doing now? 

Navid Amin:         1:21       No, I can’t say that. I am not gonna say that, especially on a podcast. I refuse to use that term. Yes, I mean, I... Yeah, so I started in 2000. And I will tell you really quickly. So, I did a logistics degree - supply chain degree. And I applied for pretty much every single supply chain / logistics graduate training scheme, right? So, I got to... I always get to the final stages, always Sainsbury’s as the... I think it was Nestle, British American Tobacco. And I got to the assessment centers. And I just always, always just fell apart, right? Just fell apart. And it was just tension. It was nerves. And honestly, I was kind of coming to the end of the year. And I had one application left. And it was for GlaxoSmithKline. It was for procurement. And I went along and had my first interview. And it was an hour’s interview. And honestly, for 50 minutes with this guy whose name I remember - he was a really nice guy, a really nice guy - and all we spoke about was Wasim Akram, Wakar Younis, and reverse swing. Genuinely, that’s all we talked about. And... 

Jonny Dunning:   1:36       Great way to connect. 

Navid Amin:         1:44       Great way to connect. And then there was an assessment center after that, actually, which was by the by. But it was funny, because when I did kind of join and I got into the graduate scheme, as soon as we met, and we spent 50 minutes talking about how to reverse the ball. He goes, “I don’t know I what to do my company.” And it’s just a change. This is one of those quirks of fate. So, my first placement was actually doing direct procurement. So, it’s based in Gloucestershire at the [Unclear] factory. So, it’s really fun buying the foil that used to go around the robbery in a bottle and cartons and just production equipment, some of the flavors that go into toothpaste. Out of my first year, I got to know how a factory was run. And then I went down to London doing software procurement for GSK. I did that for three years. It kinda got itchy feet.

Jonny Dunning:   3:34       Have there been many trips to the cricket along the way? 

Navid Amin:         3:37       Yeah, absolutely. Especially, Edgbaston [Unclear]. And then we went to Vodafone. So, Vodafone for a couple of years. Again, software procurement, but it was - what we will call - service platforms. So, this was really weird. Now, looking back on it, some of the stuff you were buying was really bonkers. Like ringback tones. Do you remember what that was? 

Jonny Dunning:   4:03       Yeah. 

Navid Amin:         4:04       So, when you pick up a phone, rather than hearing “Ring, Ring”, you would hear your favorite song. So, we buy a platform for that. And this is when it was real cutting edge stuff. Mobile TV was coming out. So, you had to buy kind of streaming platforms from startups from Europe. And in looking back on it now, it was really pixely. These guys, it really had to price a product. We really didn’t know what it was worth. But it’s really, really interesting time. So different from GSK, which was as a pharmaceutical organization, quite risk averse. 

Jonny Dunning:   4:09       Yeah, I should imagine. 

Navid Amin:         4:40       Whereas Vodafone, specifically, when you are talking about that kind of marketing stuff, it was all about how can I get this out before 02. How can I get this out before T Mobile? So, it was a different type of procurement. So, I did that for a couple of years. And actually, I had conversation with my ex-manager at GSK. And I just ended up going back. And I was there for a good 14~15 years, buying IT again. Then I went to financial outsource services, consultancy services, like the big four. And then yeah, new CPO started. So, I did special projects, kind of savings management framework, working on our working capital, converting 4 billion pounds worth of payment terms to 60 days net or even more to help our position. And then I moved into R&D. So, buying clinical trial services, not a scientist by any way, shape or form. But that was quite a big learning curve. And I finished my career at GSK buying lab supplies and equipment for, I think, it was a... Number of sites must be around 30 around the world. So, that was a really kind of potted history of my career. And then yeah, WSP. So, it was my kind of first Head of Procurement role at WSP, which is a large Canadian engineering consultancy firm based in Montreal.

Jonny Dunning:   6:13       A couple of things that I think are really interesting. Great way, you put it across, by the way, but firstly, the assessment centers, when you went through the assessment part of the interview, what was it about that? That was really kind of off putting or kind of tricky. How was it? How were they structured?

Navid Amin:         6:31       So, then, they were structured in terms of potentially just smart interview as well. And numerical case study, verbal reasoning. And the one that always got me was the team exercise. And it was, because I always was not, frankly, in a while. Looking back on it now, I could reflect on him being 20 years on. I was never authentic. It was never my true self.

Jonny Dunning:   7:00       Because you were trying to give people what they want. 

Navid Amin:         7:04       Exactly. So it’s not just a team exercise. When you are prepping for the exercise, you have still got the invigilators in the corner of the room watching you. So, in one assessment center, you might think “You know what, they want someone reflective.” So, I am just gonna stand back and watch what everyone does. And then kind of give my tuppence worth maybe and see where that goes. The feedback would come and it would be like, “Too quiet! Didn’t really have an opinion.” So, in the next assessment center, you totally flip it.

Jonny Dunning:   7:33       Let’s try a different approach. 

Navid Amin:         7:34       You try different approach. It took over people. You had no concept of taking people along with you. No concept of influencing people. Because you are just out of uni, right? These things are kind of... You don’t know about these things. And the feedback would be: “I didn’t listen to anyone; own view.” And I just find it really, really hard. I just... And the one place where I was my authentic self, was about the role. And that was the GSK one. I just thought... There were many reasons I thought I was gonna get that role. There were four people there from one university kind of colluding. They were kind of helping each other with the presentations. Me and this other guy kind of looked at each other, and we are like, “Yeah, we are not gonna get these” There is a cat in hell’s chance of us getting these roles.

Jonny Dunning:   8:21       Did that kind of take the pressure off a little? 

Navid Amin:         8:22       Absolutely! Totally! And during the interview, the exercise, presentation, I was just myself. I just talked myself. And it worked.

Jonny Dunning:   8:35       I think that’s really interesting. I think that’s a great anecdote. But for people coming into the market, people looking at moving on in their careers and things like that, it’s just be yourself and bring the value that you can bring as yourself. 

Navid Amin:         8:47       100%. 

Jonny Dunning:   8:48       And I think to a certain extent, with some large organizations, the way they structure their hiring process and their graduate programs might have changed a bit from that. But it’s worth bearing. For companies and for individuals, it’s worth bearing those sort of things in mind now.

Navid Amin:         9:02       Even now, we are hiring, right? We are hiring two roles at the moment. And what I look for people is absolutely that authenticity. But I think it goes to more for the candidates as well. We know when they come for a role, be your authentic self. If this industry doesn’t interest you, procurement doesn’t interest you, we can see through that. You can see through that. And you are not going to be successful in that role.

Jonny Dunning:   9:31       Yeah, it’s that whole kind of thing of people kind of kidding themselves that they want to make it a good match when it isn’t a good match. 

Navid Amin:         9:38       Correct. 

Jonny Dunning:   9:38       Like if it is a good match, guy is all round. If it isn’t, it’s not going to end well. Is it for either party? 

Navid Amin:         9:44       Exactly. 

Jonny Dunning:   9:45       I think that’s a really important point you make there. And the other thing was just to kind of point from my angle, you have worked on buying, a lot of buying in a lot of different areas. And then obviously, quite a bit of it was around kind of goods and equipment. Obviously, tech as well. But now, you are in an environment where I would imagine probably a very high percentage 85-90% is services. 

Navid Amin:         10:12     Correct. 

Jonny Dunning:   10:14     What was that transition like when you first came into WSP?

Navid Amin:         10:19     So, I was exposed to kind of services back at GSK and also at Vodafone, because yes, I am buying a piece of software. But actually, when you are buying that piece of software, a large part of the total cost of implementing that is going to be the cost of implementing that piece of software. So, I was exposed to that and also the financial accounting services stuff. You know, doing all that stuff, offshoring is services. So, I was exposed to it there. What’s different at WSP is that the services you are buying are absolutely fundamental to the end product that we are selling to our customers. If you are working in a GSK, you are working for - I don’t know - an FMCG. You are buying a bottle or you are buying a cup, that ends up being on the shelf. The services I buy do not end up being on the shelf. They are a contributor to helping you be a successful organization. And that product getting to our customers. It’s different for us. We have 9,000 people now in the UK, 60,000~70,000 globally, who are experts in what they do. Architects, ecologists, archaeologists, engineers are every single shade in our organization. But when we form a core team, potentially we may not have those skill sets in [Unclear] on other projects. So, what we procure, what we buy, ends up being the end product for our customers. Makes sense?

Jonny Dunning:   12:00     Yeah. And when we had our first chat and we were just initially started speaking, that was one of the things I found really interesting. It was just your breakdown of direct versus indirect. So, I think one of the things that I find fascinating in procurement is the kind of lack of uniformity around categorization. And obviously, you have got some people who will take a direct versus indirect approach. You know, majority of organizations take a category based strategy. But there’s not... Even in the way that procurement teams are structured, it’s not something that’s a one-size-fits-all. It’s quite flexible. And if you look at how different organizations will - we will see different definitions - it depends. 

Navid Amin:         12:41     Absolutely. 

Jonny Dunning:   12:41     So, within WSP, how you see direct versus indirect?

Navid Amin:         12:45     I will just tell you [Unclear] head. If I look at all the stuff that we buy, the tangibles, laptops, PPE, all that sits in indirect. 

Jonny Dunning:   12:57     Yeah, right. 

Navid Amin:         12:58     Direct for me and direct for WSP, is subcontractors, sub consultants, which again, form part of our kind of formal supply chain. They are services. All services, but we call them direct because they form part of the end product that we are selling on.

Jonny Dunning:   13:20     Yeah, and I have just found that really interesting in terms of that viewpoint, and that it just exposes the wider conversation around, how procurement is structured in different organizations, how it needs to be approached, how much is the same across organizations, and how much needs to be tailored in terms of strategy and use of technology and the way that the function operates. But the other thing I just found really interesting about it is, I have a particular area of interest in how organizations get work done. So obviously, services procurement, being an element of one of the options of how organizations get work done. Also can get work done with their employees. And they can also get work done with contract and temporary staff, as well as outsourcing it. So it all depends how you want to balance the risk, the cost, outcome versus time, and all these sorts of things. But ultimately, it’s all just the overall capacity and capability of that organization. Which I think is fascinating when you look at it with an organization like WFP, where it’s so intrinsic, and how you manage that supply chain. And I will come on to it later. But how you can try and build value of a procurement function. I thought that was a particularly interesting area of it, because it’s quite complex, managing all those people based services, I would imagine.

Navid Amin:         14:39     And if I was to sit here and say that we have cracked it, that will be a lie and a fib. It’s super complex. And what we try and do for our own sanity more than anything else, is still use those categories, right? So, if I am buying architectural services it’s different to ground investigation surveys, which is essentially someone going in and digging a trench somewhere in Warwick show where the HS two line is to begin going through. They are different and you have got to look at them slightly differently too. You have talked about the fact that these guys... Why is it about getting work done? Get that, absolutely! That is a fundamental, that’s your foundation, this stuff needs to get done. The question then becomes, how it gets done and who does it? And those are kind of questions that we have to answer using our category strategy. 

Jonny Dunning:   15:38     Right? Right. 

Navid Amin:         15:38     So I will give you an example. So you might be HS2 for instance. You are HS2, you want to work with WSP to kind of map out where this rail route is going. And you look at WSP and you think, “Well these guys are all engineers”, right? Absolutely! They will tell me where this line should be going through. But are they really going to help me? And will they be the right organization to help me dig that trench, for instance? The probable answer to that probably is no. So what they will say... HS2, what you might say to me is, “This is great. We want you to use you. But actually we want you to partner with this organization.” Right? So then we get told sometimes, who actually we need to be working with? So that whole kind of WSP experience for the customer is seamless, right? That’s one element of it. And then the second element of it... And I think this goes for all categories, and all organizations, we have got very, very experienced people in our company who have been doing this for a number of years, who know who they would like to work with. Right? So there are trusted advisors, so to speak. And then thirdly, which is complex. And we find this as a bit of a challenge because we have this concept of the supplier. But actually, a lot of the suppliers that we use are actually also our partners, right? Because we have joint ventures. All right. So we bid together. 

Jonny Dunning:   17:15     That’s a whole new element to it as well as it does it for a procurement perspective.

Navid Amin:         17:18     Absolutely! Yeah, absolutely. Because I look at I spend report, some of the biggest numbers on that spend report, our competitors, and you kind of go, “Well, listen, this is spend that I can attack, this is something I can take a look at.” Get a category strategy going and getting really excited about it. And then one of the C suite say, “Yeah, great, do that.” But you also need to be super careful about the fact that we are in JV with these guys in a different part of the country. 

Jonny Dunning:   17:18     Right.

Navid Amin:         17:18     So you can do it. But you got to expect them to do it then back to us. And the example I give is, you know, we have a lot of people about their diversity in their supply chains. And we send out questionnaires, we are gonna do one very soon, in regards to level three emissions, right? What does that look like? 

Jonny Dunning:   18:05     Let’s go through stuff. 

Navid Amin:         18:06     Yeah, exactly. And again, from my standpoint, it could have been really easy just to send out a kind of mass email to our 2000 or 3000, suppliers saying, “Fill this in.” But we can’t because actually, a majority of those are our customers. They are our clients. They are our joint venture partners. So the team, the procurement team, really got to have that mindset to say, you really need to kind of understand your supply base here, you need to segment them. And you have got to have those really strong relationships with your internal stakeholders to make sure that you are totally aligned, in terms of how we are treating these JVs’. Because that could be the difference between them partnering with us and not partnering with us.

Jonny Dunning:   18:51     So the supplier relationship management side of it is multifaceted. In the sense that it’s at the front end of the process of, we are involved with bids and things like that. So the back end of the process, in terms of delivery, but also your suppliers, could be your partners, could also be your competitors. It’s a hugely collaborative exercise. But ultimately, it’s all about delivering value to the customer and for the whole supply chain to work effectively together to do that. But it’s... There’s a lot...

Navid Amin:         19:22     Just on that, so we are not there yet. Right? Again, with your traditional kind of suppliers, maybe in the indirect space, travel, facilities, management, all that kind of good stuff. We do SRM. 

Jonny Dunning:   19:36     Right.

Navid Amin:         19:36     What you would and you know, the majority of people potentially listening to this, are going to think about what good SRM is, you know, your three stage model and, you know, your joint goals and gain sharing and all that kind of stuff. Have procurement really had a role in kind of getting in and managing or even being part of the discussions with a JV? No. Right? Because that’s like getting in and talking to a customer. Right? Potentially, that’s when you are talking to corporate development, you are kind of extending the boundaries of procurement into areas that we really want... In my previous career, I have never been in, which is, you know, how can I work with you together to win more business, that’s corporate development. And I think it requires a different skill set, totally different mindset. But we need to have a history of success in these kinds of ventures, in these kinds of areas. Frankly, some of us, the senior stakeholders in our business to trust us to have those conversations. We are creating that pipeline. And at some juncture, I am going to say, “I want to be allowed to talk to that supplier, customer / JV, or whatever it is.” But we are just not there yet.

Jonny Dunning:   21:00     It’s... I mean, I can see how that’s very much an evolution. And I think the industry, the type of work that WSP do, it’s kind of it pushes that, accelerates that evolution with those type of conversations. But I have always thought I have said it before, and no doubt, I will say it again. But I feel like procurement sits at an amazing kind of juncture within most organizations in terms of their ability, their visibility of data, and feedback. So you can see what’s going on inside the organization, you can see what’s going on with the external capacity, and you can also see what the external capacity think of what’s going on inside the organization and vice versa. So you are privy to a lot of information, where you can get involved with that. And that, again, ties into the kind of the value conversations and...

Navid Amin:         21:45     You have absolutely hit the nail on the head. And one of the reasons and one of the levers to use for us to kind of have those conversations. Because I have asked the question, “So who will is this relationship with this JV across WSP?” And normally, the answer is, “Well, no, we do it by business unit.” So the four business units, we have someone who manages relationship for property and buildings. Will have someone managing this relationship for transport and infrastructure. But rarely, very rarely do you have someone who says, “Right, what are we doing with this organization across the piece?” I just absolutely think because we have the data. And we sometimes have those relationships where we can do that. But again, it just goes back to the fact that you need to kind of have that history before people can start trusting you with that. We do that for all our indirect spend, we do it for some of our direct spend. We are really talking about the big boys here. Now, the big kind of meaty, really strategic suppliers to our organization.

Jonny Dunning:   22:49     Yeah, and I guess one of the things that’s going to be crucial with that is centralizing the data effectively. In an interview when you were talking earlier about the kind of, the known networks where you have got SMEs within the business who will know various suppliers and sub consultants so they know, in a particular area of expertise. Archaeology, for example, they know some real experts that they have to use. But if they are busy on working on a particular project, other people might not be aware of those suppliers that could be used in other areas. And it’s just, you know, procurement have the opportunity to really centralize that data, performance data as well as capabilities. And that ties into also the knowledge of who’s working on what, you know, where you are addressing a particular supplier. The challenge, there’s an additional challenge in being not only able to identify their capabilities but also to be able to enter identify how that relationship currently...

Navid Amin:         23:42     Yeah, absolutely.

Jonny Dunning:   23:43     Are they working on a joint venture somewhere else in the business while other products are involved with? That’s... I imagine that’s probably part of the ongoing kind of journey.

Navid Amin:         23:53     Yeah, absolutely. So there is a really, really basic, basic feedback mechanism at the moment, right? So because we can’t track everything as a procurement team, it’s impossible, right? So what we say is, if you do have feedback about good experience or bad experience, send it to our supply chain team, they will log it. You get enough information to say this supplier actually was just not great. We will block them. Right? Because why would I want someone else to have a poor experience? Who’s trying to buy services in a particular area into WSP, so we will block them. But that data, I think you are kind of alluding to it, it’s in silos? 

Jonny Dunning:   24:34     Yeah. 

Navid Amin:         24:35     Right? That data is not connected to my supply master data. My supply master data is not connected to my SRM information, right? My spend data sitting in a separate bucket as well. And at some juncture, you know, it would be great just to have all this management information, which I can then pull out from one source and then present that, not only to my category managers and my team but to see most leaders in the organization, right? Because that is more power to the argument, we were talking about previously is, this is why I should be playing in this area. Because I have got all this data and I have got all this visibility, and I can give you what potentially no one else in the organization can.

Jonny Dunning:   25:16     Yeah, and it’s the depth and nuance to the data as well. Because you might get a supplier, if you measure them on quantitative metrics, they are always over running on costs, they are always late. But whose fault is that? It might be that the actual business stakeholder would say, five out of five stars in every area, they are doing a fantastic job, the delays were due to unforeseen things coming up in the project, or they were internal delays that then affected the supplier. So I think I mean, that’s definitely an area that I am a huge advocate of. It’s kind of for us, what we are doing as a business, it’s our whole reason for being is to capture that and say, you know, understand what’s being promised in a services contract, and then what’s actually delivered, and how it’s delivered, to what level of satisfaction, etc. Because it is complicated because I don’t know whether this happens with WSP, with that engineering slant to it. But sometimes it’s quite hard to define projects when you get started. And you are almost the definition of what’s going to need to be done. It’s almost like step one of the process half the time with particularly with IT type projects. 

Navid Amin:         26:17     Yeah, absolutely. 

Jonny Dunning:   26:18     But then obviously, there are going to be changes along the way where, you know, stuff is contracted, but then it has to change, it has to be updated. And that data is so fundamentally useful. Both, as I say on that, with regards to the quantitative signals and also that qualitative feedback, which might be for example, you know, how well did they perform from, you know, an environmental, ecological point of view with what they were doing with earthworks? Or, you know, what was their communication like, or however, that might be structured? Or it might be ongoing assessment of things like diversity and other ESG metrics that you are tracking? But yeah, I think once you can centralize that information, then absolutely, that power is in procurements hands, to be able to really help influence the business. And it’s hugely useful for the business. Because as I was saying earlier, when we were talking about kind of capacity and capability and how organizations get work done, at the, you know, the C-suite, really want to understand what’s the most effective use of all of our resources, whatever that might look like. And the supply chain, obviously, in WSPs’ case is a hugely important part of that

Navid Amin:         27:28     I hope so. And it has been increasingly so. I honestly pick up something that you talked about, you know, in terms of what our kind of goals are. So, you know, how do we become important to the C-suite? That’s a really important question that I think a lot of procurement people need to kind of ask themselves, but it’s different for different organizations. The first thing is cost savings. I don’t think there’s ever going to go away, and always slightly unfashionable to say so. But I think that’s our kind of, you know, that’s your meat and two potatoes, right? That’s your basics, you have got to do that. It’s your foundational, it’s never gonna go away. Over the past few years, there’s been a whole host of stuff that we have got to do, right, ESG, diversity, risk, everything. And sometimes I do think, you know, there’s this kind of clamor to say, that’s all we do. I disagree with that. Genuinely, I disagree with that. And I tell my team this all the time. So listen guys, at the end of the year when I am sitting down in front of the boss, what he doesn’t ask me about, quite honestly, is how did you get on with your ESG targets first, or tell me about the risk process that you put in place? Now, the first thing he always says is, “Well, alright, you said you were going to save this? What impacts the bottom line?” Or more importantly, “What impact Ebates Have you had?” Right? I think that’s... We have got to do that. The other stuff is “And” it’s not “Or”. It’s “And”. And you got to be focusing on ESG. And you got to be focusing on diversity. So what we have done is to kind of take a little step up and say, “Listen, we rank projects five ways now.” And we say, “Actually, this project is going to deliver cost savings.” Yeah, “This project is either going to cost savings or simplification. It’s going to reduce the supply base. It’s going to help with my ESG goals.” And I think this is the bit I really like about WSP, it’s either going to help us win work. You can classify those five... If you can classify a Procurement Project in those five areas it really kind of helps people take note, specifically the winning work one. Yeah. 

Jonny Dunning:   29:44     And that’s... 

Navid Amin:         29:44     You are absolutely linking what you can call a back office function with the lifeblood of the organization, right, which is your pipeline. ESG and simplification, we have taken that with a stranger drawdown from our corporate strategy. Yeah, looks at their corporate strategy. We want to simplify the way that the engineers can buy stuff. Not just buy stuff, but all sorts of stuff. We want them to be focusing on clients, as opposed to be focusing on kind of back end tasks. So what can I do? And what can the team do to help do that? So simplification, and anyone who’s ESG. Right? We are all about the built environment, you know, where we make stuff, we design stuff, we have an impact on the world around us. So absolutely, ESG is really cool to visit. And you know, we have a target and neutral target as well, that has to be implemented into designs. So if the organization is talking about that, why is the procurement function or we not. You know, so we, as a team actually decided that we are going to take some of these key tenants of our corporate strategy and make them something that we also going to live by too. Your C-suite start seeing that senior leaders in your organization start seeing that, they see that you get it. So you are not just talking about the numbers. Again, I am talking about numbers, but I am talking about them alongside stuff that’s interesting to them. That’s your pushing on the door, then.

Jonny Dunning:   31:19     Yeah, I mean, ultimately, it’s strategic alignment, isn’t it? 

Navid Amin:         31:22     100%.

Jonny Dunning:   31:22     You know, the organization needs a clear strategy, it needs to be well communicated to every part of the organization, every part of the organization needs to know how they are contributing where they fit in, and they need to be aiming towards that same goal. So I think sometimes if you just... Where you have that pure savings approach that can detract from that because it’s too limiting. And it’s definitely where the evolution of procurement as a function is going. But there’s work to be done because savings are relatively, I say, relatively depends, easy to measure, and really easy to understand and comprehend. Whereas the value side of it is much more different. 

Navid Amin:         32:01     It’s very difficult. So, you know, we have just done a piece of work for our... Well, we did it last year for the biggest bid that WSP actually undertook. And my team spent some time running an RFP process for a constituent sub consultant for that bid. And we made 15 to 20% savings I remember now, for this particular element, that’s fine, you could track that. Right, how much you spend, how much to save, but trying to work out what the value of us actually doing that piece of work in terms of us getting more work, is harder. It’s so much more difficult.

Jonny Dunning:   32:45     And it’s going to take time. 

Navid Amin:         32:46     And it’s going to take time. And you know, it’s something that we have struggled with because we don’t know how to kind of encapsulate it, to be honest, and present it back to, you know, the C-suite and say, “Well, this is the kind of indirect impact we have had on winning work.”

Jonny Dunning:   33:04     It’s kind of like marketing attribution. You know, you might see that you are of B2C company, marketing to individuals, you might be doing Google AdWords, or LinkedIn advertising if it’s more B2B. And you might be getting clicks on Google. But your traffic might look like it’s coming directly. So but the indirect attribution of that is that somebody’s seen your advert on Google or on the TV or wherever it might be. And that’s influenced them to the point that when it comes to actually making a decision to click on your website or make a purchase, or do whatever that’s influenced... 

Navid Amin:         33:38     It’s a really good analogy, actually. 

Jonny Dunning:   33:40     Yeah, it’s that kind of marketing attribution model, which does take time because how you operate with suppliers could affect a bit further down the line, because you built that really good relationship with that supplier. And you have got everything completely lined up when it comes to the bid. You just, it’s just absolutely nailed.

Navid Amin:         33:58     And just one quick thing... You talked about creating that relationship with that supplier. So the savings were one thing, some other pieces of feedback we found really interesting during that process was post, you know, [Unclear] everything was kind of, you know, shut and done. The suppliers came back and said, “You know what, we really liked the process that you guys had run, never really done that before but it was super structured. We kind of knew what we were being measured against. You were open in terms of where we needed to kind of get to.” And that structure, you know, they really valued it. And they said, “That actually makes us want to work with WSP more.” You know, so we are when we are out there and we are on this framework, and we want to pick some suppliers. It’s not just about the savings. It’s actually about kind of creating that impression of us and what we are like as a company to work with. Because everyone talks about wanting to be easy to do business with. That was a prime example, where we tried to show some of these organizations that actually if you are gonna work with WSP, it will be in a systematic, measured, and measurable approach. And I think they really liked that. 

Jonny Dunning:   35:20     Yeah, it’s fast... 

Navid Amin:         35:21     [Unclear] evaluate, though. Yeah, you know, that’s a hard one.

Jonny Dunning:   35:23     Yeah. It’s like, for example, a supplier wanting to align with companies that have the same kind of ethical goals around, for example, ESG type metrics. They want to align with company... You know, suppliers are in demand, you know, decent suppliers are in demand. So it’s about aligning culturally, and ethically, and commercially, but it’s also about being easy to work with. Because if from the suppliers point of view, if you are working with an end customer, that’s an absolute nightmare to deal with. It might be lucrative but the time drain and the problems it causes might negate that. So it’s effectively being a customer of choice as well, isn’t it? 

Navid Amin:         36:04     Yes. 

Jonny Dunning:   36:05     And by running that detailed, structured process you are allowing your strategy to filter out to those external suppliers. Which in terms of the way that you get work done that there is such an essential part of that. I think that makes complete sense. But just going back to the cost side of it, the saving side of it. Do you... Have you seen at times or can you envisage situations where that can actually be detrimental to an organization where there’s such a focus on savings, that actually if there’s a lack of understanding of the data that goes underneath that, it can actually cause problems? So say, for example, the CFO is pushing, right, we have got to make a 20% savings on our consultancy spend. If there’s a lack of information around what that consultancy is, you will know what you are spending with who. But if there’s a lack of information on what those projects were. How they are feeding into the company’s strategy. And maybe how well those suppliers did. Then if you are just trying to cut site make savings, you could be cutting out work that’s driving new products, or driving new business wins. If without the right information, just making savings on the top level, I feel it can potentially kind of risks associated with it. I don’t know what are your opinion on this.

Navid Amin:         37:20     And I agree. Yeah. But I think we have also got to be realistic that all organizations at some juncture might be going through something where those cost savings are required and needed. It’s just life. I mean, look what’s happening now with the cost of living crisis and potential layoffs, etc. Organizations potentially could be struggling. 

Jonny Dunning:   37:40     Yeah.

Navid Amin:         37:40     COVID was a great example. COVID was a great example where we, WSP included, were under stress and there were these targets. So it’s going to happen, it’s always going to happen. So you can’t expect everyone to get a haircut, you are going to exactly end up in the scenario which you have just talked about. And this is where I think, you know, one of the key things that we have tried to implement at WSP, and I think it’s been, well, we have only been doing it for a half year, but I think it’s successful is, if that target came along, right? If it’s 20% Target, I would say to my boss, who was the CFO, “Fine, we will shoot for that. But that cannot be a procurement target. That has to be a business target.” Right? And what you do then, is to ensure that their expertise, the guys who are owning that service, that service line who have the end responsibility to make sure that that particular subcontractor, subconsultant, or whatever they do, actually delivers to WSP. They are targeted with it. And we will help them facilitate make sure that we can get 20% of the cost base. But those guys who are experts, if they could input their expertise and actually kind of just put their hand up and say, “We are going to fire now.” Because if I was to cut here, I am actually really going to impact the service in such a way that’s too... It would be undeliverable or affects our reputation. I think, at that point, the business will listen. Right? Because you got an expert talking about that. If it’s just a procurement target, I push back and say, “Yeah, we are not in the role of just doing cuts.” We do it. We have to for life of the business, but we will do it in conjunction with our stakeholders.

Jonny Dunning:   39:41     That’s a really great point and it’s not a question of deferring responsibility. It’s a question of getting... Firstly, buy in from the business and secondly, expertise. So it’s just very grown up in my opinion in the sense that you are... Because I guess if it’s just a procurement decision, and you are forcing the savings on the stakeholders, that’s going to potentially put them in chaos. They are not going to be helping with the process necessarily, because then the process is just been forced upon them. And they can’t contribute. So well hang on a minute that is not going to make sense. Yes, we can make a bit of savings here. But actually, we need to look at this bit over here. 

Navid Amin:         40:19     Correct. 

Jonny Dunning:   40:19     Yeah, that makes complete sense to me.

Navid Amin:         40:21     And I will give you a real-life example about it now. So linked or not linked? I don’t know, one of the things that the procurement team is frustrated with at WSP quite honestly, its pace. Yeah. So we do our spend analysis, we have targets from, you know, financial targets from my boss, or the board, etc. And maybe your USP wasn’t really used to kind of strategic sourcing, right? And I don’t think they know how to work with us. So in their list of projects, we might be 17th. Right? So category managers are really finding it difficult to kind of get people’s time to say, “Hey, listen, we need to kind of focusing on this, because we can, hey reducing them the suppliers, simplify the process for you by getting a catalog. And I can make some savings.” “I know, that’s great. That’s really interesting. But I am focused on my clients and focused on delivering this project.” Hard to kind of get their time, right. So we have kind of implemented this thing called the project, procurement projects review board right on there. So it’s a CIO, CEO, CFO, and do you know what, rather than having six months’ worth of towing and froing now saying, “We are going to look at this category?” Stakeholders saying, “Yeah, not yet. But maybe in Q3.” We will say “Cool, you know, what? We will present to these three individuals, let them make a call.” Right? We take up, we have the discussion. And if it’s a go, it’s not just a procurement target now, they are pinned with it, they have got to come back in three months’ time and say, “Where are you with reducing the cost base for your service.” And it’s worked really well with us so far because it really reduces our timescales. But it also makes them responsible for those financial targets. And we are finding it immensely effective way of kind of pushing our message into the business.

Jonny Dunning:   40:44     And by doing that, also, with those interactions with those C-suite stakeholders, you are building the trust. 

Navid Amin:         42:30     Yes. 

Jonny Dunning:   42:31     You are building the trust and building the value. But added to that, I think there’s an important factor in this, which I am quite interested in the way that procurement is developing as a profession. And the concept of, you know, new talent coming into the industry and the type of talent that will be required in terms of data analytics, strategic thinking because with the advancements in procurement transformation, better use of procurement technology, it’s becoming less transactional. I think, if an organization was to let a function like that, or if you were to let a function like that, we are bashing up against this, but you know, it’s just the way it goes. And that’s frustrating to the people that work, running those categories and work within the procurement team. And also, it’s going to put people off coming into the business potentially, because when can people come into the biz... If you are trying to bring people in who are go-getters, who want to make a difference, add value, all these sorts of things. There’s gotta be a process that they can go after it, there’s got to be a direction they can move in. And I think it’s like when some companies are really, really backward in their use of procurement technology, for example. And people are just swamped with manual transactional tasks. That’s not attractive to people coming into the industry, you know, individuals, youngsters coming into the market have their own expectations about how things should work and how they should, what stuff, they should be focusing their energies on what stuff should just be automated, captured in proper processes. But yeah, to inspire that next kind of cohort of people coming in, there’s got to be something to go after.

Navid Amin:         44:08     You make such a good point. Because we do get people coming in, I kind of felt it as well. I have hired people. Really good people, change makers. But the changes didn’t come because the organization is not ready for it. And you can feel them just kind of bristling and finding like... And I have kind of sensed, are they constrained? Are they bored? Gosh, are they at a flight risk? Right? All these things need to be considered because what we are asking for, as a procurement organization is people who are listening great at category management, know a category, but who are entrepreneurial. You know, we ask for that, I look for that. And it’s only recently then we have kind of given them the structure to do that. Before that, actually, before we... Actually, before entrepreneurial spirit, knowing the challenges that were there, I always said that what I look for is people with a kind of high emotional quotient, right? What’s their emotional intelligence like? Because you can have all the technical skills in the world. But if I can’t convince you, Mr. Stakeholder or Mr. Stakeholder to kind of bring... work with me, think about this, they are never gonna get far. So the challenge you pose is, I am really good, I know what to do but you are not letting me do it. One way of tackling that has been using my emotional intelligence to bring you on board, to influence you. You know and all that kind of stuff that we, you know, we get taught, that takes time. It has taken time. We have done it and it takes time. And what I see is my savings kind of rolling over into the year after. I have just circumvented that now, I still want people who have got all that. But now I think they were mature enough. And we have a history of work that I can show C-suite. That way we have delivered and say, “Actually, you know what, I don’t need to do that for six months, I can put a formal structure in place where I can get an answer in six weeks.” Yeah. And you find the category managers love it, they love it. That doesn’t mean you ignore your influencing skills, you still want to do all that, you have still got to build your relationships, it just doesn’t mean you go through that cycle for six months.

Jonny Dunning:   46:37     Yeah, and I guess it’s kind of in some ways, it might take the pressure off the relationship because if the decisions are being made at that level, then it’s the business making a decision. And you can concentrate... Procurement can concentrate on the relationship with the stakeholders and the relationship with the suppliers, which, you know, I was talking about people coming in with different skills, maybe increasing skills around data analysis and all these kinds of strategic things. But fundamentally, there’s always going to be that massive relationship element, that communication element, empathy. So yeah, that completely makes sense to me. And yeah, like I say, it kind of takes the conflict out of it a little bit in the sense decisions over there. Ultimately, what everybody’s trying to do or what everyone should be trying to do is what’s best for the business, what’s in line with the strategy. And rather than just procurement being saddled with a, you have got to reduce cost by this much and everyone’s going to hate you for it. It’s an overall business target.

Navid Amin:         47:32     It’s a business target. And then you know, the next step and the next evolution for me, honestly, is, when we do our annual reviews or annual target setting, whatever comes out of that board, “Fine, you can put it in my development plan, or wherever it may be.” But I also want to see my stakeholders, that target is a shared target. And that’s when you are then joined to the hip. And you will deliver and just kind of, you know, it’s a procurement savings target or it’s a business saving target. It’s not. It will just be like, something that we have to do together to deliver back for WSP the business as a whole, that’s the next opponent to get to.

Jonny Dunning:   47:32     So when you are talking about kind of being joined at the hip with the stakeholders, at the front end of the process, obviously, where you have the ability to really help with on the bid side of things, with your relationship with the suppliers being able to recommend the right suppliers, being able to help coordinate that process. Do you feel that that’s...? Is that something that you didn’t really see so much, or didn’t really see at all before you were at WSP? Or was it something you have always seen the potential for that?

Navid Amin:         48:42     No, I will be honest. You know, listen, if you are buying financial accounting services, you know, P2P stuff or record to report, you are so far away from the medicine getting to the patient. When you are buying it maybe in R&D, you get a little bit because you are buying clinical trial services. So there are people involved in kind of testing these medicines and you bought services, which are impacting those people, of course, but never the end product. Here... And by the way, in that in those instances, you know, you are not really involved in the bid stage. WSP is totally different. We are absolutely kind of core for our largest bids. The bid directors and the bid team will come to us and kind of give us a pipeline and say, “This is a lot of bids here. Probably won’t be using a lot of third parties. But we have a real nice pink juicy one in the middle of the year. And we really need your support.” And it’s interesting that from last year to this year, the way they have kind of framing the question has also changed, right? It’s not really... Well, I will say that it is about the money, it is about the pricing. Let’s don’t get away from that. But they also were having conversations with our suppliers and say, “Well, we need to find out about the ESG credentials, we need to find out about their diversity goals, we need to find out about their net carbon neutral plans.” And they know that we have been working on it for two, two and a half years. Right? So that kind of expertise as well, the bid team really appreciate and they want to see us bringing that to the four as well. Not just in the RFP that we are going to send out, but in every interaction that we have with the supplier. As I said, it’s my team, right? Every interaction we have with a supplier is an opportunity to condition and it kind of gives you a message. And the bid guys love that. They really, really like that, because it helps them, later on when we have moved off, manage that relationship because the foundation has been set. 

Jonny Dunning:   50:55     Yeah and I guess it’s certain in certain parts of the process, your management of that relationship is going to be so essential to them because they are not going to necessarily have that relationship. And if it’s a good relationship that’s then handed over, it makes their life easier. 

Navid Amin:         51:08     Exactly. 

Jonny Dunning:   51:09     But I think it’s really interesting to look at that, you know, the e-bid, impact. And the top line impact. As you say, the top line stuffs much harder to measure that [Unclear] So how do you... And obviously, we kind of talked about it, it’s an evolution, but how do you manage the gap between the standard expectations of what your team can and will deliver versus the opportunities to kind of take it to the next level? Because that’s where it feels like it’s at the moment more difficult to justify it to the business. 

Navid Amin:         51:45     Yeah, it is. So the way... So listen, we will do the standard stuff, right? So I always say, “That’s our prerequisite.” And to get to that next level, to get to a place where, you know, the organization is trusting us to potentially talk to and operate with those JVs’. Or maybe involving us in more bids, is not by talking a good game. Right? You are never gonna get there, or we are never gonna get there. I always look for that one opportunity I can showcase, right? Yeah. So we did one bid last year, which I have spoken about, right? And that’s... I use that as a platform, say, “Hey, John”, you know, the director of bid, “We can help you further.” And that’s true. If we can find more like that, if I can correct a history, a track record, and I can start talking about it, and communicating it effectively, it starts to build the awareness in the organization with outside the financial element of the organization. And when you talk about the business, the core engineering community, that these guys can make a difference. You know when I first joined WSP, and I think back to it now. And I am kind of like, that’s why my manager, the CFO at the time kind of said this, he goes, “Do your work. But when you get that good news story, frankly, I want you to be on top of the building shouting about it.” And I have got to say, right, my manager is immensely supportive of procurement function. A lot of stuff that’s happened is because of his support. He’s been brilliant. And never... It’s kind of alien to us. Right? You might send out a little communique or a note saying, “Yeah, we did this category strategy thing, we are gonna save this over three years.” Great. That’s you are kind of done and you move on to the next project. My CFO was like, “No, you intranet. Right? I want you to intranet, I want you to send notes out to the ops teams, etc.” Why? Why did he want me to do this? And it’s all to do with creating that history, creating that pipeline of work that these guys can see and say, you know what this guy’s got pedigree, the team’s got pedigree, more importantly. And when these people are coming, you know, to my meetings, then I know they want a pedigree, and I know that history of adding value, right? You know, one of the things that always really frustrates me, I will be really honest, I hate this term, is when people say, oh yeah, procurement does, you know, want a seat at the table. I am like, Why? Why would I as a business stakeholder, give you a seat at the table. Prove to me that you deserve that seat at that table? Right? And that’s what we have been trying to do over the past three years. It’s really trying to create that history of work that we can say, Listen, guys, this is what we have delivered. And it becomes really hard for them to kind of say, “When only involve you?”

Jonny Dunning:   55:01     Well, yeah, exactly it becomes illogical. 

Navid Amin:         55:03     Illogical. 

Jonny Dunning:   55:04     Because at that point you have evidenced it. And you have said the business is trying to achieve x, this is the strategy, this is how we are contributing towards that strategy. So that it’s just completely logical to bring in that expertise and take, you know, make value of that. Again, it’s just strategic alignment, isn’t it? Just going on a slightly different tangent. So firstly, just sort of going back to that. The way that that what you are talking about with the way your CFO operates, that just brings together, knits everything together, doesn’t it? 

Navid Amin:         55:38     Yeah, it does. 

Jonny Dunning:   55:39     That communication starting early, evidencing stuff, and it’s not about kind of just going rah, rah, rah, look at us. It’s about saying, we are working hard, we are doing this, it’s all contributing, and celebrating those wins and those successes because they do benefit other people. And it shows that you know, it shows the procurement, working towards the same goals, rather than being the police, or whatever, you know, in some organizations where there’s that kind of misalignment. So I think that’s really interesting and clearly seems to be working very well and obviously, gives you... Sows the seed for that future development of what you are looking to do with the function as a whole. If we look at the delivery of services, we go into that in a bit more detail. So one of the things I find quite interesting in this area is the opportunity to engage services on a rate based model versus a value based. 

Navid Amin:         56:32     Yep. 

Jonny Dunning:   56:33     And again, it ties into the difficulty in validating and proving like value based decisions. 

Navid Amin:         56:40     Yeah. 

Jonny Dunning:   56:41     Which is ultimately where everyone says they are trying to get to, and where it makes sense for people to try and go, but it needs to be measured and defined effectively. But it ties into risk and things like that as well. How do say it in terms of and how does the business say it currently, when you address that from a traditional rate based. It’s quite simple, I know that this type of person, this rate, versus that outcome based.

Navid Amin:         57:04     You know I struggle with this one, I really struggle with this. So I will come on to that in a bit. But WSP as an organization, I think we have internal kind of conflicts about this because we are a professional services organization as well. So you speak to some very senior people. And because we are a rate based organization at the moment, and I think some senior people will say, actually, you know, what, we want to start moving into a place that where we are providing proposals from a value based perspective, because we have been doing this a long time. We can engineer a building, we can design a tunnel, we can tell you where a railway should go, etc. And there is an inherent value to that expertise, we should be pricing with us. Some say no day rates and all that kind of good jazz. On the flip side and then the procurement standpoint, we are as you said, recently we increasingly beginning to see proposals being come through which are value based proposals. And the reason I struggle with them is innately and inherently as a procurement person, I want to get that number. And it’s usually that one number. And I want to explode it.

Jonny Dunning:   58:21     Yeah, you break it down.

Navid Amin:         58:22     I really want to see what’s in it. And the more I think about it, I don’t think that’s an unfair question. I genuinely don’t think that’s an unfair question. If you are going to price your value and your expertise, fine. Tell me what that’s worth? So I can measure that against what another organization would think that their value and experience is worth. The same way that I get a bill of materials, right and I get a cost at the bottom. Fine, works for a widget. But why can’t I do that for professional services? You know, how many partner days Am I getting? Every director days I am getting? How many junior manager days am I getting? Cool, fine. That’s a really basic number. But you have also put something else in there. You have put a cost of your value in there. And I want to know that. I am not going to let my team come back to me and say, “Here’s a proposal 400,000 pounds is value base, so I didn’t get a breakdown of it.” If I don’t ask the question, when we get when we go for sign off for 400,000 pounds. Do you think the C-suite are willing to sign that without asking you questions? They are not. They are not. So we better get used to seeing these value based propositions. But just because it’s got value base written all over, it doesn’t mean that you can’t start to interrogate it and investigate it. And I think we are at this kind of cusp now of, you know, maybe kind of going into the kind of marketing procurement world where everything is value based. And you know, you can’t really ask me that, because it’s all about the brand, it’s all about getting more sales. Listen, if we start seeing that in the more kind of sub consultants and subcontracting world...

Jonny Dunning:   1:00:24  Technical stuff.

Navid Amin:         1:00:25  We are gonna push back.

Jonny Dunning:   1:00:27  I think it’s such an interesting area of discussion, because value based pricing or outcome based pricing. So if you look at it as an outcome, rather than necessarily as a value, or the two being kind of combined, then there is certain thing... It depends how your contract is structured. So if you have got a rate based and time based contract, it depends how much that can just run on. Because it’s like, when companies look good, if they are going to do an IT project, I could hire a load of Java developers, X amount per day, or I could get this outsourced to this company who are going to deliver the project for me. If I hire these developers, it’s kind of like, I feel comfortable knowing the rights I am paying, but how long is it going to take? Is the project gonna go wrong? Where does the risks it? Versus if it’s on an outcome basis, that company is going to deliver it. And if they if they run over their own budget, that’s their problem is Yeah, so there’s that element to it as well. But I think, you know, we are a company does have that intrinsic value and that expertise, in the same way that WSP have that intrinsic value and expertise, as you say, all that inherent experience of doing all these projects, that is definitely worth something. What’s the older story about the engineer, the boat engineer, when the man who owns a big, giant container ship says, “There’s something wrong with my boat, I need you to come.” He tries everybody, no one can fix it. And this guy comes along, spend some time looking at it, and then just taps the engine with a hammer and it works. And he gives him the bill for 10,000 pounds. He’s like: “How can you charge me that as well?” I will break it down for you. It’s, you know, one pound for tapping with a hammer and 9999 for knowing where to top. So oldest story in the world. But you know, there is that, how do people price that out? And that’s where some organizations will become more proud to say, we know we can deliver this, we are comfortable, we can deliver that for this for the budget we have set forward. And we know we are going to do a great job because our brand, our reputation, our previous work with you, and all these sort of things, but like you say when it comes into that there’s this... It’s not given that people are just going to accept that but I think organizations should be able to break it down. It’s just that they are probably not used to doing that.

Navid Amin:         1:02:49  Honestly, potentially, I don’t see a difference for me kind of scoring it and saying, you know, once... Again, day rate for X, day rate for Y, day rate for Z. And then you can say, well, actually, these guys, you know, company, ABC, in my RFP or whatever, are actually putting a value on the expertise. And it’s 10,000 versus 12,000 versus 15,000. And you compare and contrast. I know you take it in the round, I get that. But I think you got to be able to kind of say, well, what is it? What is that intrinsic number that you are putting onto that value? Because I want to know.

Jonny Dunning:   1:03:28  And how do you see that from the risk perspective? In the sense of, the difference in outsourcing to that supplier on a rate based contract versus an outcome based contract? Do you see much difference in the risk element?

Navid Amin:         1:03:41  You know what I see, the difference is I always think an outcome based contract is only as ever as good as the requirements that we have sent across are going to be. So we have been in a situation recently and in an IT project where it was outcome based. Overran, and overran significantly. And the supplier was kind of getting frustrated. And you know what I can kind of understand their frustration because the spec, the vision that we had provided, just poor. Just poor. So fine, go with the outcome based contract because it makes sense. But again, at the beginning of that process, at least have a common understanding of what that outcome is and document it. Right? Just because it’s outcome. And you can say, I want that system up and ready in six months and it’s gonna have 60 users on it concurrent, etc, etc. That’s not enough. Just genuinely not enough. Everyone has to sit down and say write in black and white, write it down: “What exactly does this thing look like?” If you haven’t got that, potentially do your day. rates. But then you know, this whole thing IT projects about doing the sprints, you know, kind of phasing it. I am big fan of that. I am definitely, absolutely, I am a big fan of that. Because you kind of get to see where you are after the first two weeks or first four weeks. And you will get a sense really quickly if you are gonna hit that target or not. So we try and do... Or our IT projects, at least along that methodology.

Jonny Dunning:   1:03:46  I think it’s such a fascinating area of discussion. Pardon me. When you are looking at the outcome based staff requirements definition, how the collaboration can work, we are doing loads of work around that in terms of when you are creating a requirement. How can a stakeholder effectively collaborate with procurement to get guidance on how to create that requirement? Okay, procurement aren’t the SME, the stakeholder might not be the SME, but you can still structure it correctly and make sure you are capturing the right elements. And then how can you collaborate with experts, suppliers, maybe just one supplier to help build the requirement or that you don’t want to create a self-fulfilling prophecy, versus working with multiple different suppliers to look at different ways that requirement can be shaped in that kind of collaborative process to really build something effective, but then you have got to capture it, and then you have got to measure what’s delivered against it, because stuffs gonna change anyway. Like you say, a milestone or a deliverable could be a sprint, in an agile process, which then will help define the next sprint or the next iteration of that particular project. But it’s a fascinating area, I think, alongside the potential we discussed earlier for doing a separate podcast on me getting caught in a rip current.

Navid Amin:         1:06:38  As I say, it’s fascinating. I hope other people will find it fascinating. My wife will be bored listening to this.

Jonny Dunning:   1:06:45  I think it’s really interesting. And it’s great to get your take on it. Because these aren’t kind of like just cut and dried issues. There’s nuance to it.

Navid Amin:         1:06:53  No, yeah. I think one of the things I have always said... You and I were talking about this before, right? Just because it’s new, doesn’t mean it’s right. Yeah, we all jump on the bandwagon. And I am always want to say like: “Well, let me see what this process is, or what this idea is. Just prove it, prove it.” And then we can start saying, Yeah, you know what, this is the only real difference to our function. And there’s a lot of stuff happening at the moment, which is, I think, is going to come up... By the way, I want to ask you this. Have you used Chat GPT, yet?

Jonny Dunning:   1:07:22  I have. It blows my mind.

Navid Amin:         1:07:24  Listen, honestly. So you know, everyone’s talking about AI is going to change procurement. AI is going to change procurement. And I was like: “Listen, never, not gonna happen.” Oh my God! That thing is amazing. And I think, you know, when you start putting that into organizations. And you start thinking about, how we can use that in our function. That is something that’s going to change the way that we work. 

Jonny Dunning:   1:07:25  Yeah. 

Navid Amin:         1:07:29  Genuinely, I couldn’t believe it. It was just stunning!

Jonny Dunning:   1:07:37  Requirements, definition, creating narratives on the sales side of thing. I saw one recently, where a chat GPT application to a job got an interview. And you know, all the... It’s pretty amazing. We are at the start of it really. Yeah.

Navid Amin:         1:08:12  I mean, that’s just a beta. It’s totally just a beta. And if, you know, the most simplest application for that is, though a Chatbot. Right? You know, you kind of go in and say, my purchase order number is this, where is it? And you know, it’s standard responses that come back? That is not a standard responses. Can you imagine that? 

Jonny Dunning:   1:08:31  Yeah. 

Navid Amin:         1:08:32  Right? You start talking to an operative? Yeah. And I was like, I looked at that. And I thought, even at... The kind of total and utter back end of that process, this is going to change. But there were absolutely going to be applications for this further, the food chain. Stuff like that is going to change our roles.

Jonny Dunning:   1:08:50  Yeah. The last thing I was gonna ask you actually was just in terms of kind of your thoughts for the for the immediate future, your plans for the immediate future, because there’s certain things that you can implement and that you are clearly you are planning and you are already doing, rolling out. But there’s going to be other things that just come along the way like, technology, advancements like that. That are just going to be able to be slotted in that suddenly chunk it up to the next level of win. What are your kind of key sort of expectations and aspirations for the next, for the kind of immediate future, next 12 months?

Navid Amin:         1:09:21  The next 12 months? So the one thing I think we are all struggling with, and I have talked about this at that conference, we met at. Which is supplier data, right. So as an organization, which gets a lot of RFP tenders from government, we get a lot of questions asked about our supply chain. So I will give an example, I [Unclear] in this example because it just blew my mind. We had a question which basically said, “How many diverse suppliers, diverse supplies or suis are you using within eight and a half mile radius of Curves and the Street Station in Birmingham?” 

Jonny Dunning:   1:10:02  That’s pretty specific. 

Navid Amin:         1:10:04  Genuinely I did not know. Genuinely I do not know. And when you kind of ask around the organization, people don’t really know. But you know what we did? We kind of answered it. We looked at who we had suis, did that totaling up? We have got, you know, lots of techie software. So we mapped the postcodes from our supplier database onto the supply base some of these engineers have got, and we gave them an answer, right. But it was a lot of effort. We get asked questions like: “Which of your suppliers are not paying living wage?” Genuinely, I don’t know, right? Because we don’t capture this information. And this is real tension between sending out supplier questionnaires and supplier onboarding questionnaires, which are 150 questions long, versus us as an organization being asked all sorts about our suppliers. I don’t know how to solve it. There are organizations out there, specifically in the financial sector, and defense sector...

Jonny Dunning:   1:11:07  Defense sector... 

Navid Amin:         1:11:08  Who will do that for me. Yeah. And kind of works for them. And potentially, that’s the way it’s gonna go. But that’s something we are trying to really focus on this year say... Oh yeah, by the way, I am not making that procurement problem. I am making it a business problem. Because if I can’t answer that question in a bid, what does that mean? 

Jonny Dunning:   1:11:27  Yeah.

Navid Amin:         1:11:28  Potentially means we are not going to win that bid. So when we form a core team, it’s not just procurement. It’s the marketing guys. It’s the bid guys. It’s the person who’s implementing a new ERP. But again, the trick is, well, my found the trick is, “Don’t make it a procurement problem make it a business problem.”

Jonny Dunning:   1:11:46  I like that. I think, again, with that, it’s a question of bringing it all together and getting everyone to understand the reasons why. You know, the stakeholder wants to win the work and he’s satisfied the customer. You are being asked all these questions to support that. And the supplier wants to work. 

Navid Amin:         1:11:59  Yeah. 

Jonny Dunning:   1:12:00  So as long as everybody understands that, then then it brings it all together. And basically, we have solved all the problems.

Navid Amin:         1:12:08  Chat GPT solved all the problems

Jonny Dunning:   1:12:10  Yes, leave it to Chat GPT, is far simpler. Well, listen, thank you so much. I really, really appreciate your time. And I think there’s loads more stuff that we could delve into, and I would love to kind of get your opinion on, but maybe that’s one for a future conversation. But I really enjoyed our chat and Yeah, I appreciate your time.

Navid Amin:         1:12:27  Thank you, Jonny. 

Jonny Dunning:   1:12:28  Cheers.


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