Big Ideas in Procurement in North America

The procurement profession in North America is thriving. But what are the Big Ideas coming from one of the profession’s biggest regions?

Cliff Palace North America

Ahead of the Big Ideas Summit 2016 on April 21st, we are taking a look at the key issues facing procurement in the coming years. We have asked experts and influencers in our community to share their Big Ideas on the themes we will be discussing on the day.

Here, our experts and influencers share their thoughts on the Big Ideas impacting organisations and industries on the other side of the Atlantic, in North America.

Justin Plokhooy, Director – Supply Chain Management, USAA

Power Profiles 1 - Justin PlokhooyTalent Management – It is clear, and has been for a couple of years, that supply is outstripping demand when it comes to the Procurement job market.  In 2016, firms will be challenged to do a better job in working with their current employees to better develop career plans (up to and including a path to the C-suite), and find challenging work to keep them from looking elsewhere. 

A work environment that has the right pay and benefits is always important, but even more important is the opportunity to have a more flexible work arrangement. Millennials have hung like a Sword of Damocles over the entire job market, and with that generation entering the workforce, firms must offer more mobility tools in how they execute work.

Procurement as a Service – Procurement organisations are struggling to get the right to execute on the work they have. The use of outsourcing and ProS has exploded over recent years and will continue to grow in 2016. 

Procurement organisations will continue to ask their employees to conduct more value added work and as a result the administrative functions will need a place to live. Moving those to a service provider will become a growing trend. This will also allow firms to become much more scalable and flexible in response to changing market conditions, quickly finding skills that may have taken much longer through a permanent hire. 

Driving out labor costs should not be the deciding reason to move to a ProS model, but that may end of being a benefit as well.  The “as-a-service” economy is here to stay and Procurement leaders should embrace the possibilities.  

Anna Spady, Marketing Manager, RFP365

Power Profiles 1 - Anna SpadyMore millennials = more mobile – Now that Millennials have outranked Boomers as the dominant workforce, we believe there are big waves in store for procurement.

We’re convinced this next generation of CPOs will demand mobile and agile everything, and simply won’t be content with the clunky processes we’ve had to use to compare, select, and communicate with our suppliers.

Even our clients in the most traditional of industries (government, healthcare, finance) are feeling this necessity. They’re creating iPhone apps to administer benefits packages, and using Twitter as a consulting platform. Similarly, Procurement will also be forced to pivot, because ultimately more millennials means a need to be more mobile.

Innovative evaluation – One big trend we anticipate in North America is a more innovative way to evaluate procurement technology. 

As a Marketer, I know that paid analysts and reviews are simply not as trusted as organic reviews from real customers. So it was interesting to read this Procurious discussion on the pros & cons of using review sources like Gartner. 

We’re convinced technology assessment methods like the Magic Quadrant will become increasingly obsolete. Because there are two big problems with these pay-to-play systems. 

First, they’re too niche, and the evaluations are exclusive to platforms that cover every area of procurement, excluding platforms who specialise in part of the procurement process. Their outdated criteria also makes makes outdated technology look like winners, and the factors aren’t up-to-date with what is actually on the market.

The second problem is their hefty price tag, which often excludes valuable options like newer, smaller companies, who might actually offer the best functionality. We believe the future holds more relevant and dynamic ways to find e-procurement solutions. 

Leveraging Technology for Vendor Selection – We’ve noticed nearly all the technology and tools on the Procurement market today focus on vendor maintenance (invoicing, contract management), while neglecting the critical process of selecting those vendors. 

Why have parts of the procurement process evolved (paper catalogs streamlined to the web, entire supply chains being monitored from a single console, etc), yet the actual selection and comparison process remains in something akin to the technology dark ages?

Our big idea is to see the rest of procurement catch up. To see the age of IOT and data applied to each part of the procurement process, starting with more sophisticated  vendor selection methods.

Do you work in North America? What’s your Big Idea for the future of procurement? Let us know and we could be discussing them on April 21st.

Want to know more about Big Ideas 2016? Then visit, join our Procurious group, and Tweet your thoughts and Big Ideas to us using #BigIdeas2016.

Don’t miss out on this truly excellent event and the chance to participate in discussions that will shape the future of the procurement profession. Get Involved, register today.