Is procurement facing an uphill struggle to stay relevant? Could strategy and technology hold the key to both destruction and survival?
It’s the end of Day 1 at ProcureCon Europe, and the Procurious team are looking forward to winding down with the best Berlin has to offer. First, though, we’re reflecting on what we heard from the speakers and delegates at the conference.
Procurement’s Burning Platforms
After fortifying ourselves with the great coffee on offer, Procurious stepped into the conference hall to listen to David Noble’s ‘State of the Profession‘ address. The CIPS CEO was positive about the situation procurement currently finds itself in, but had words of warning for the future.
One particular quote stuck in our minds as we considered the question of how procurement could remain relevant:
“If we don’t show our true value, our profession will cease to exist in its current form.”
Noble outlined what he termed as procurement’s “Burning Platforms” – those factors the global profession needs to be aware of now, and in the next few years.
First, the spectre of supply chain risk. Global risk is at its highest level (a peak of 80.8 in CIPS’ Risk Index in Q2 this year) since 2013.
Second was ethical supply. Linked heavily to supply chain risk, it appears that procurement is still struggling with transparency and ethics. Only 57 per cent of buyers have visibility of their Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers, and the percentage drops to single figures when it gets to Tier 3 and beyond.
The final burning platform was professional relevance, and how procurement could embed strategies to remain relevant. Noble touched on the ‘gig economy‘. This area is a double-edged sword, giving procurement the opportunity to train those not in the profession, but also challenges in maintaining the profession’s reputation.
Innovation & Frank Assessments
Automation and technology was a topic covered by a number of keynotes (more on that in the near future). However, it’s worth touching on a couple of areas of innovation, particularly in the area of stakeholder engagement.
JJ van der Meer, Partner at PA Consulting, outlined some of the activities that procurement can do to bring stakeholders on board. He and his team have coined a new word, “entreprocurement”, as a way of describing this innovation. While a bit unusual, it’s a term that’s likely to stick in the procurement world, we’re sure!
Innovation, and the drive to do better and better, was also the focus of Kristian Saksida’s keynote. Saksida, CPO at Solvay, offered a refreshingly honest assessment of his team’s transformation journey.
He was open to admitting the mistakes they had made while striving for more, but it was clear he wanted the room to have the benefit of this knowledge to avoid the same pitfalls.
Saksida’s background in Finance helped put an interesting spin on his material. However, he made some key points about the need for procurement to be speaking the same language as the business.
For two functions which have often had a troubled relationship, Saksida’s keynote gave a sense of positivity for the future at Solvay.
Sport and Procurement – A Creative Mix
Lastly we stopped in on Celia Sanchez San Juan’s interactive case study on optimising business partnering. Having seen Sanchez San Juan in a panel earlier, it offered a chance to dig deeper into Adidas’ fledgeling procurement team.
You may not see how sport is relevant to business partnering, but the link was far from tenuous. Adidas look at sport as having the power to change lives, and approach their procurement in the same way.
Sanchez San Juan offered Adidas’ maxim, “The Guiding Principle is Helping to Make a Difference, in the Game and in the World”, by way of explaining how the company puts its people at the heart of its change in procurement.
The journey to becoming a strategic business partner drew on the ideas of insights, impact, and innovation. Moving procurement from ‘Support’ to ‘Creator’ drives greater collaboration, and ultimately delivers greater value for the customer. In the world of sport and procurement, it was all about playing on the same team.
Isn’t that a good thought to finish the day with!