Tag Archives: procurement research

A New Skillset for Procurement Leaders

Procurement leaders of tomorrow will need to combine highly refined soft skills, a broad business understanding and digital literacy to elevate their function and put it at the centre of business change in the years to come.

Photo by Chevanon Photography from Pexels

Procurement has never had a better opportunity to be the value adding function that it has always aspired to be.

The exponential technological advancements of the last decade have lowered entry barriers across markets. Procurement functions that successfully invest in and work with these new innovators will give their businesses a competitive advantage. Technology has also vastly improved the handling of large data sets.

Sitting at the intersection between the supply chain and the business, procurement is awash with data, and technology means it can spend less time on data acquisition and analytics and more time on deriving strategic insights from that data. Crucially, that helps the business to make more effective decisions, faster.

In recent years, we have also seen a spike in companies outsourcing key elements of their business. This has led to an increased number of strategic suppliers that need to be efficiently managed in order to ensure consistent high quality of product and service.

These two factors combined generate the perfect environment for procurement to move from its traditional role of “price negotiator” and “process policeman”, to strategic partner of choice, leading business transformation.

However, to do that, it will need a new skillset.

The ‘Right’ Skills

Efficio’s recent 2019 study, “The Human Factor: Strategic procurement and the leaders of tomorrow”, asked 500 senior procurement and operations leaders across the globe what their current top priorities were. The top answer, with 29 per cent of votes, was access to the right skills.

It received 60 per cent more votes than the next top priority, maximising efficiencies in the supply chain. Moreover, nearly half of respondents (44 per cent) put access to the right skills in their top three.

Organisations clearly recognise the need for a new skillset, but what are the right skills? In our view these can be categorised into three pillars: soft skills, broad business understanding and digital literacy.

Procurement Leaders – Influencing & Leading

The study showed 78 per cent of procurement executives believe soft skills are either essential or very important for the procurement leader of tomorrow. By drilling deeper into the results, we can find some interesting insights about how these executives see procurement in the future.

The single most desired soft skill quoted was the ability to influence and lead. This is indicative of a procurement function that is setting the agenda and leading stakeholders to make more effective decisions. Interactions that procurement has with stakeholders will be just as important, if not more so, than those it has with suppliers.

By understanding the business requirements and having a deeper knowledge of supplier capabilities, procurement will not only drive cost savings but also influence the business to select solutions and partners that best align with a company’s strategy.

The second most sought after soft skill is the ability to challenge conventional thinking. As well as challenging the way the business thinks, it needs to re-evaluate and challenge the way it has operated itself for so many years, with the goal of defining what it can do differently in order to move from a function that most organisations try to bypass.

It needs to become more customer centric and challenge itself and the business to move from a savings focussed, to a value-adding function.

Involving Your Suppliers

Thirdly, respondents recognised a need for innovation, creativity and problem-solving skills in the future. This hints at an expectation that procurement activities will go beyond traditional one-size-fits-all RFX approaches to every problem.

It will instead work in a more project-based manner with an agile approach that more effectively meets business needs. An example of this could be involving suppliers in the solutioning, to help define those requirements in the first place.

Although soft skills are generally not part of the current procurement training curriculum, they can still be learnt and developed. But critically, these don’t need to be learnt solely from being in procurement roles.

By positioning procurement on the career path of high-flying and ambitious individuals, it can benefit from people who have honed these skills in other functions but can apply them in a procurement context.

A Broad Business Understanding

To be truly accepted at the top table, procurement needs to communicate in the language of its peers in the business. Specifically, that means avoiding defaulting to a narrow focus on savings and process and rather seeking to define itself by what is important to its business.

That is not to say savings related activity is not important, but it needs to be put into context of the wider objectives of the organisation.

For example, a strategic lever for a business might be to grow revenue in a sector by bringing an innovation to market. Procurement should recognise in this case that it can best provide support by approaching the supply market with an investor mindset, trawling the globe for new start-ups to invest in and collaborate with in product development.

Going to those start-ups with an onerous RFX to fill out will unlikely result in any strong partnerships because those start-ups don’t have the capacity or knowledge to put themselves through such an approach.

Digital Literacy

Finally, the future of procurement will need to have a strong technology element to become a more effective function. Whether procurement leaders go for an end-to-end solution or a best of breed approach by building an ecosystem of tools best suited to their organisation, understanding at a basic level how technology is built, and how it integrates with other tools, is essential in being able to make good long-term investment decisions.

Historically, procurement leaders have never needed to be digitally literate in this way, however this will need to change as businesses become ever more reliant on technology and need to make long-term decisions on what to purchase.

It is therefore incumbent on the procurement leaders of tomorrow to educate themselves on the digital terms they use, latest trends and not to just limit themselves to the procurement sphere in the search for that knowledge.

Looking at other functions and sectors to understand how new technologies are being applied can help develop digital procurement strategies and roadmaps that are a step ahead of the competition.

Hone these Skills to Thrive

To become a more effective function and to elevate itself in the business, procurement is going to need people with a different skillset from today. A strong focus on soft skills is essential, but so too is an understanding of business more broadly than procurement’s traditional priorities of savings and process.

Being able to successfully digitalise the function will require people who understand not only how to use technology, but who are also able to make long term investment decisions. Procurement functions that recruit, train for and retain these skills are likely to find themselves at the centre of business change in future.    

Download our research report, “The Human Factor: Strategic procurement and the leaders of tomorrow”, here.

Navigate Global Trade in 2020 and Beyond

Digitisation, automation, and the shifting state of global trade are the three macro-trends predicted to affect Procurement and Finance the most over the next few years.

global trade

According to ourworldindata.org, global exports today are 40 times larger than 100 years ago. Much of this due to long-term relentless focus on developing free trade – across the world, but especially between the three powerful nations or nation groups: The European Union (EU), The United States of America, and China.

Albeit with the global commerce climate changing daily, there are growing concerns, as highlighted by a recent report from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) that explores why geopolitical issues are dominating.

Free trade is the heart of modern business

The free market has thrived for decades. So much so that the young generation of business professionals haven’t experienced the closed alternative. But due to shifting trade dynamics, the free market we have grown accustomed to may be threatened, and not everyone is prepared.

According to the survey report from the EIU, only 35 per cent of respondents are confident in their organisation’s ability to adapt to global trade trends and have secured alternative market sources or suppliers.

Anyone in Procurement and Finance would agree that a free market and mutually advantageous regulations have made business easier. Cross-border shipping, VAT handling, cross-border invoicing—all of which are more straightforward when governments cooperate with one another. All that mundane work and those non-productive tasks required to move money, people, and goods between countries is decreasing.

As a result, businesses can:

  • source materials where they are the most accessible,
  • produce goods and services where it’s most economical,
  • and sell final products in the markets where the profit can be maximised.

An European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS) report has estimated that by 2030, the amount of trade between USA and China will grow by 80 per cent, and over 85 per cent between EU and China.

Given these numbers, free trade must surely be part of the recipe for growth. Or will it?

EIU highlights global trade concerns

In the recent EIU report sponsored by Basware, we interviewed over 400 supply chain and finance professionals to find out how they’re preparing for the future.

Almost one in four of the respondents believe that the post-Brexit climate of trade will have the greatest effect on global commerce. 21 per cent believe that the impending US-China trade war will pack the biggest punch to global trade dynamics.

Overall, survey respondents revealed that they’re generally quite concerned. The most common impacts expected from these changes are:

  • An increase in procurement costs (35 per cent);
  • Greater supply-chain complexity (29 per cent); and
  • A decrease in business opportunities (22 per cent).
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And these professionals are justified in their worries.

Questions regarding international trade post-Brexit and the customs introduced between the USA and its trading counterparts make even the most experienced supply chain experts raise questions.

Discussions of the current and future geopolitical landscape have become a permanent agenda point in board meetings. The competitive nature of businesses is no longer merely determined by the typical factors of economies of scale, product differentiation, switching costs, or access to distribution channels. Instead, it’s also determined by businesses’ abilities to manage ever-increasingly fragmented supply chain for goods and services and respond to changes outside of their control.

According to Ernst & Young Global Limited (EY), one in five executives say that there is “too much uncertainty” to predict the full effects of the trade actions instated this year by the US government.

As products and services become more and more dependent on tangled interdependencies of businesses and therefore subject to trade restrictions, the chances of non-compliance increase. As the probability that these sanctions hit your supply chain increase, so does your business risk.

Steps to prep for the future of trade

How can procurement and finance professionals embrace change to make sure that they are a part of the solution and not the problem?

Participants in the EIU report state that reviewing internal controls and procedures, forecasting costs through simulations, and developing end-to-end supply chain visibility measures are all ways they are prepping.

Here are three steps you can follow, to future-proof your organisation’s global trade strategy:

1. Move to digital flow of information

Move away from paper and email-based orders and invoices and adopt electronic commerce to take advantage of digital financial supply chain and its economies.

2. Consolidate financial and supply chain information to identify risks

Combine information regarding your supply chain from different sources to learn more about your supply chain. Develop alternative sourcing options to diversify supply chain risk.

3. Automate where possible

Automation is required in order to move people around from transactional duties into business advisory and forecasting. Develop and train staff to adapt to change.

It may seem like a lot of work. But, it’s worth it. In fact, many companies may not be able to face the consequences of not doing it. In 2014, The US Department of Justice fined more than $1.5 billion in violations of US rules and regulations collectively.

But in 2019, just a single sanction for a non-compliant company exceeded $1.1 billion. Businesses must apply increased internal controls and procedures to continuously monitor their compliance and the compliance of their supply chains.

Make a plan for your team

Following the three steps (digitising, consolidating, and automating) are three overarching concepts that will future-proof your organisation amidst global change. But there’s more to it and it’s covered in depth in the EIU report, ‘What’s now and next for finance and procurement‘.

Learn more about automation, digitisation and the future of the global trade, and download the EIU report, sponsored by Basware, now. Learn how finance and procurement executives are preparing their organisations – and get additional tips on how you can do the same.

Questions? Contact Basware – we’re here to help you simplify your operations and spend smarter.

Procurement Needs the Human Factor

Procurement is evolving and developing and leaders have a chance to create a function to meet all an organisation’s future needs. But first they need to remember the importance of the human factor.

human factor
Photo by Min An from Pexels

Procurement leaders now have an unprecedented opportunity to be the architects of a new function that puts customer satisfaction front and centre. This is a function enabled by technology whose value proposition goes beyond mere cost savings, and becomes central to business’ ability to gain a competitive advantage and deliver shareholder value. Delivering this shift will require a complete realignment of the traditional procurement skill-base and a whole new operating model.

Our latest research study, “The Human Factor: Strategic procurement and the leaders of tomorrow”, surveyed 500 senior procurement leaders including CPOs and CFOs worldwide, to explore this new shift in the procurement operating model, as well as the expected skill-base required to prosper in the future world of procurement.

Here are some of the significant findings.

The Operating Model of Tomorrow

We’re seeing a growing acceptance in the industry that things need to change. Procurement leaders are starting to acknowledge that in order to develop and elevate their position, procurement needs to become more relevant to the business and suppliers it connects.

In line with this, our research found 53 per cent of procurement leaders to have revamped their procurement operating models in the last 12 months, rising to 80 per cent in the last three years. 46 per cent listed ‘structure’ as one of the top three aspects they had recently revised.

However, in our view, the new operating model needs to go beyond a change in roles and responsibilities, or a restructured department. It needs to be people centric, with a focus on enabling the optimal interaction between those people and the right mix of technology, insights and expertise.

To get it right, first consider what information the people in the organisation will need, when they will need it, how they will access it and how it will help them serve their customers better.

Significance of Soft Skills

Taking a step away from traditional procurement training, ‘soft skills’ are becoming increasingly important for future procurement leaders. A ruling 78 per cent of our survey deemed them to be either essential or very important to the role, with the ‘ability to influence and lead’ ranking as the number one ‘soft skill’ to possess – reflecting a clear shift in focus for the new operating model.

The study also found ‘Flexibility and agility to manage ongoing change’, ‘Courage to challenge conventional thinking’ and ‘innovation, creativity and problem solving’ to be among the top valued soft skills by respondents. In our view the expectation is clearly for future procurement functions to lead business change, challenge how they’ve operated to date and adopt a more project-based mentality with an agile approach, in order to better meet the needs of the business.

Mind the Digital Skills Gap

As society is growing increasingly tech-savvy, it’s no surprise that digitalising procurement processes and systems topped the priority list of the leaders in the industry. There is an understandable temptation to buy gadgets with the belief that spending money on software will afford a competitive edge.

However, our study revealed over a third of leaders believe that new technologies are not supported by the right processes and skills, a quarter say there is a false expectation of technology in the field, and 15 per cent feel there is a lack of adequate talent which prevents procurement from realising the true power of technology.

In order to benefit from technology, procurement leaders need to understand the impact of that technology on their workforce, the new and different skills that will be required, and then figure out how to bridge the gap. However, it seems that procurement is starting to address this as two thirds of respondents indicated that they have already taken steps to tackle the talent pipeline shortages and skills gaps in their functions.

The Future of Procurement Learning

With the procurement landscape changing so rapidly, adaptation is necessary and key to enabling this is training.

Learning and development opportunities were recognised by the industry leaders surveyed as the top method for retaining talent, so why did 94 per cent fail to have a structured approach to training in place across all levels in the organisation?

Providing such a programme is a vital way to up-skill employees in a cost-effective manner, while also playing an important role in attracting prospective, highly-skilled talent.

However, our research reveals 79 per cent of leaders believe procurement’s approach to training needs to change in this regard, showing there is clearly a gap between what procurement leaders believe is needed, compared to what is actually being implemented.

A structured approach to training ensures the knowledge, skills and competencies developed can support the strategic development of the function and wider organisation beyond it. In our view the best way to deliver this training is to have the recipient in mind, first grasping an understanding of how they will consume the training, to then design and deliver it accordingly.

Generation Z and Beyond

As the younger, more digitally native generation enters the workforce, businesses need to overcome and engage with the different attitudes that Millennials and Generation Z hold. From misconceptions about the value of the procurement function, to misplaced expectations about how technology should work, procurement leaders need to address these preconceived beliefs and position the function in a light that will attract these new workforce demographics.

The study shows a clear divide in what organisations believe to be the best way to attract and engage this young talent. A quarter identified salary and remuneration to be the key factor, 21 per cent believed it to be procurement’s role in sustainability and CSR, and a further 20 per cent ranked additional financial benefits top of the list.

Organisations clearly have an idea of what matters to the next generation of leaders, they just need shout about it more loudly.

The Human Factor – Moving Forward

The future procurement operating model is looking to embody a digitally literate workforce with strategic minds and an abundance of soft skills – a step change in requirements from ever before. Attracting this talent is a challenge, but this is the future of procurement.

Procurement needs to create a culture that enables an inquisitive mindset, but one with the confidence to challenge constructively, both internally and externally. It needs structured training programmes to empower employees to develop real, transferable hard and soft skills, but places heavy emphasis on the importance of self-learning and reinvention in an era when knowledge has never been cheaper.

It’s vital that procurement leaders confront this change challenge head on and in doing so, they will not only realise procurement’s full potential as a value creator for the company, but also to ensure its continued existence as a function.

For too long, procurement has been characterised as the “process policemen” or “final price negotiator” – charges it would like to deny but often lives up to. To become more effective in the future, procurement leaders need to build this new, technology-driven, skills-enabled procurement operating model that really values the human factor.

Download the full “The Human Factor: Strategic procurement and the leaders of tomorrow” report, here.

Efficio is the world’s largest specialist procurement consultancy operating across ten offices in Europe, North America and the Middle East. Efficio works with clients to identify, deliver and sustain improvement opportunities in procurement. Their international team combines unparalleled procurement expertise and industry experience with a unique blend of intellectual capital and technology to deliver results and advance clients’ procurement capability.

5 Big Procurement Challenges Addressed by Enterprise Contract Management Software

This article was originally published on the Icertis blog.

Procurement is a complex part of global business that carries serious commercial and regulatory risk. These risks are especially pronounced when a company does not have an effective way to centrally manage its contracts.

In a recent survey conducted by ProcureCon, leading procurement officials were asked about contract-related challenges they’ve faced that caused revenue leakage, increased cost or financial penalties. Here were the results:

A critical component to tackling each of these issues is enterprise contract management software, which sees contracts as live documents enshrining all risks and obligations incumbent upon an organization.

Indeed, good risk management begins with good contract management. With enterprise contract management, you can identify and manage risk throughout the contract lifecycle with proactive insights. A configurable risk model helps track risks across different categories, such as financial, contractual, performance and third party.

Let’s look at how each of the above challenges is addressed through contract management software.

Challenge: Higher operations costs

Finding: 43 per cent of respondents said higher operations costs have hurt their procurement organisation.  

Because contracts are the foundational element of modern commerce, they govern every procurement action and transaction a business undertakes. With the power of a modern contract management system with an ability to seamlessly integrate with procurement systems in place, an enterprise can gain unprecedented control over spend.

Through full visibility into all their commercial relationships, contract management software ensures that cash flow is complying with corporate plans, and allows executives to continually monitor money moving in and out of the business at all levels of the supply chain.

Challenge: Slow contract creation and approval

Finding: 46 per cent of respondents cited slow contract creation and approval as a challenge.

With enterprise contract management software, users can accelerate and optimize the contract authoring process. For example, users can self-service contracts with pre-approved clause libraries, eliminating the need for legal to get involved at every level of the authoring process but still control contract language.

Configurable notifications alert relevant stakeholders for revisions, redlines, and approvals, ensuring nothing gets missed. And robust, highly configurable rules increase flexibility while driving quicker approvals and execution.

Challenge: Unclaimed entitlements/lost or untapped revenue

Finding: More than half of respondents cited unclaimed entitlements or loss of untapped revenue as a challenge.

Best-of-breed contract management software draws on artificial intelligence (AI) tools that index and “interpret” every entitlement in each contract across the enterprise, allowing users to achieve the full potential of negotiated contracts through better enforcement of commercial terms.

The software captures the terms of products and services, prices, discounts, rebates and incentives in a structured form after interpreting the entitlements. You can then integrate the data with enterprise systems and help enforce terms for better savings and revenue performance.

You can also avoid missed entitlements or revenue potential. For example, sourcing organizations can automatically check purchase orders against agreed upon contract language to detect incorrect billings issues with regard to slabbed discounts or other innovative payout models.

Challenge: Missed obligations

Finding: 55 per cent of respondents said missed obligations have been a challenge.

Contract management software gives unprecedented insight into these contractual commitments, ensuring nothing gets missed. The same indexing and reporting capabilities used to surface entitlements also capture a business’s obligations to third parties, preventing leakage caused by lost business or penalties.

Challenge: Regulatory enforcement actions

Finding: This emerged as the most common challenge for procurement leaders, with nearly 3 in 4 saying they’re concerned with regulatory enforcement due to noncompliance.

It’s no wonder this was the number one concern, given the serious financial penalties and lasting brand and reputational implications of regulatory violations.

A robust library of clauses and templates goes a long way to reducing ad-hoc, or maverick contracts. Readily accessible templates, combined with a rules-driven workflow engine, helps support compliance throughout every stage of the contract management lifecycle.

Contract management software can cross-check country- or region-specific rules with relevant contracts. Compliance, down to the smallest supply subcontract, can be continually monitored through integrations with external software. Contract management software can even take a preventative role in compliance, via innovative contract creation tools.

Sophisticated contract management software can identify such regulatory enforcement and compliance obligations not just from their own contracting policy and authoring rules but also from customer specific contracts and cascade them to buy-side contracts used for fulfilling commitments. This makes the whole supply chain subject to internal regulatory enforcement and compliance actions.

To learn more about how a modern CLM solution can improve procurement at all levels of the supply chain, download this report from ProcureCon.

Vivek Bharti is general manager of product management at Icertis

Don’t Discount the Outliers – Steal Knowledge From Them!

Outliers are frequently discounted in statistics. But in procurement, it’s worth being more open minded – they may have great knowledge to share.

The Faculty is excited to share its “Outliers” Best-Practice Case Studies paper here on Procurious.

Stealing from your peers may sound ethically questionable at best. However, in today’s fast-paced and increasingly frenetic business environment, individual CPOs simply do not have the time or resources to develop their own solutions to every challenge.

That’s why peer groups such as The Faculty Roundtable exist. They provide a forum for collaborative learning and knowledge sharing around best practice procurement.

Identifying the Outliers

How do we identify best practice? In statistics, an “outlier” is defined as a data point that is a considerable distance from the rest of the observation points. Depending on circumstances, statisticians often choose to exclude outliers from the data entirely so they do not skew the results one way or another.

At The Faculty, we take the opposite approach. We see outliers as an opportunity to celebrate success, set the standard for the industry and, most importantly, learn from best practice.

The Faculty Roundtable’s recent Benchmarking report measured performance across multiple procurement practice areas, including:

  • Corporate Sponsorship,
  • Strategy,
  • Team Structure,
  • Communications,
  • Environment,
  • Innovation,
  • SRM,
  • Systems, and
  • Training and capability.

Our latest research paper contains a series of case studies highlighting some of The Faculty Roundtable members’ approach to common challenges across many of these practice areas.

Case study participants were selected due to their “outlier” status in specific benchmarks, or because they have taken an innovative approach to problem solving, demonstrating excellence in one or more areas.

Learn from the Best

The six case studies cover best-practice solutions to the following shared challenges for CPOs and their teams:

  1. Influence is Everything: Executive Support in Action at Broadspectrum

Learn how Broadspectrum CPO Kevin McCafferty ensured that Procurement gained recognition at the highest levels of the organisation as a team that creates shareholder value.

  1. A Partnership of Equals: Procurement and Environment at Australia Post

Australia Post’s Head of Environmental Sustainability, Andrew Sellick, explains why a partnership with Procurement is the most impactful way for the Environment team to meet and beat the organisation’s carbon reduction targets. 

  1. Taking the Leap: Moving from Operational to Strategic SRM at Energex

It’s easy to get bogged down in the detail. Brett Mann, Group Manager Procurement & Supply at Energex, explains why you need to have the right people in the room to facilitate a strategic level of discussion with suppliers.

  1. Do CPOs Even Need a Communications Plan? Rethinking Stakeholder Communications at Santos

Santos CPO David Henchliffe argues that a communications plan is only required with stakeholders whom Procurement doesn’t have a working relationship with.

If Procurement is intimately involved in the business, then senior executives (and their teams by extension) will know all about your function’s value contribution, upcoming projects and challenges.

  1. Planning for Success: Executing Locally Crafted Strategies in a Globally Owned Enterprise at BP Asia-Pacific

Even in an internationally-owned business with global category strategies, local planning is more important than ever. This is the view of Lauren Feery, Asia-Pacific Strategy and Performance Manager for downstream procurement at BP. Find out how to connect parallel local and global planning processes. 

  1. Keeping Your Eye on the Prize: Working Towards a Unified P2P System Across 30 countries at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ)

ANZ has taken on the challenge of unifying, streamlining and simplifying P2P systems in its offices across the entire Asia-Pacific region. From Melbourne to Auckland, Singapore to Manila, the rollout has required best-practice change-management to ensure every end-user is on board.

The purpose of these bite-sized case studies is to enable CPOs to learn from the region’s best-in-class procurement teams and take proven methodologies back to their own organisations.

  • The Outliers Best-Practice case studies are available to download now from Procurious > Groups > Benchmarking.
  • The Faculty Roundtable’s full Benchmarking report is also available here on Procurious > Groups > Benchmarking.

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About The Faculty Roundtable

The Faculty Roundtable is comprised of an influential group of procurement leaders in the Asia-Pacific region. These leaders gather to share their experiences and insights, to achieve greater commercial success for their organisations.

Through The Roundtable, members have access to leading-edge thought leadership and commentators, a ready supply of valuable expertise through exclusive market intelligence, as well as networking and professional development opportunities for themselves and their team members.

Meetings are held throughout the year in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Singapore.

For more information, please email [email protected] or call +61 3 9654 4900.

Procurement Innovation Personas Revealed: Which Are You?

Are you an ‘innovation visionary’? Or one of the other innovation ‘personas’ in procurement? Well now you can find out!

procurement innovation personas

By Daniel Ball, Director, Wax Digital.

Recent research Wax Digital has conducted has revealed that 80 per cent of procurement professionals are seeking to challenge the status quo.

However, for many their use of innovation is evolving. Fewer than one in five are seen as ‘innovation visionaries’, and many others are taking different paths.

The research shows that procurement professionals value innovation, with most working towards becoming more innovative in their role in a bid to drive the business.

Procurement Innovation Personas

However, what it also shows is that there are four distinct ‘personas’ that define how procurement professionals are driven by innovation and change.

The four different personas defining procurement innovation are:

  • High-level Visionaries

18 per cent are committed to the use of technology and using data insights to influence business innovation.

Very much about the bigger picture, they use their procurement expertise to influence top level innovation and growth, rather than being personally and practically hands on in driving that change.

  • Enlightened Activists

At 36 per cent, the most common of the ‘personas’ and the most likely to be directly driving innovation.

This group is successfully driving change and delivering business value through high technology adoption. They are focused on solving real business issues rather than departmental processes. They don’t stand still and are always on the lookout for what’s next.

  • Early Strategists

30 per cent are still sowing the early seeds of procurement innovation but realise that they have many opportunities ahead of them. Innovation is a priority, but they have some way to go before they fully embrace it.

  • Pragmatic Professionals

This final 20 per cent are less innovation focused, but still open to using it practically, to improve procurement processes. Their primary focus is on savings to the bottom line and following clear business mandates.

Seeking Value in Innovation

It’s really positive that these findings show almost all procurement professionals seeing value in innovation and involvement in it. Whether this is through changing the way they do things, or, as is increasingly the case, influencing how the business as a whole should adapt too.

While early innovators tend to be dealing with more fundamental changes, such as implementing technology for the first time, they have the biggest ambitions for innovation in the near future.

At the more experienced end of the spectrum we see a mix of procurement working hands on to drive business innovation, and senior procurement advisors consulting on the business big questions around future change.

What’s interesting is that these findings ring true with what we see working with procurement teams on a day-to-day basis. The function is shedding its stuffy and administrative reputation. It is investing in technology that integrates the whole sourcing and purchasing process, delivering valuable insight, and enabling them to be bolder in showing the business what it’s capable of.

Procurement’s path to innovation is not perfect however. There are tell-tale signs that its innovativeness could be hampered and restricted by its inherent aversion to risk.

To become real innovators, procurement professionals must foster the right business relationships, nurture the correct set of new skills and seek to break ground in their approach to technology.

If you’d like to find out which persona you are and how you can best apply innovation in your role we have created a simple quiz – What type of procurement innovator are you?

The personas are based on research conducted by MORAR Consulting with 100 senior UK procurement executives commissioned by Wax Digital.

European Business Abandoning Manual P2P Processing

New research has revealed a move by European business towards a completely digital P2P environment.

Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock.com

Canon, world leader in imaging solutions, recently announced that just 3 per cent of Western European businesses believe that manual P2P processing will continue into the future.

The finding originates from The Future of Purchase to Pay (P2P) 2016, a Canon trends report compiled by ICM Unlimited. The report asked finance and procurement leaders how they believe the world of P2P would to evolve over the next few years.

The study, conducted by ICM Unlimited, and developed in conjunction with Purchasing Insight, is the result of 706 online interviews with business influencers and decision makers spanning 12 European markets.

The respondents were sourced from board level directors within corporate finance and procurement functions, and from businesses of varying sizes.

Spend Under Management?

Most businesses report that they have yet to fully control spend using Purchase Orders (PO), while half say they have less than 50 per cent of their spend under control. Despite this, however, there is almost universal agreement that the P2P process will be automated in the future. Over half of the European companies have already begun that journey.

The report found that while there are concerns around cost and productivity, businesses seem motivated to explore how P2P technology can help. Half of finance decision makers (50 per cent) feel their department productivity is below average, while 42 per cent of procurement leaders feel their department is operating below the desired level of productivity.

However, the trend towards automation in finance sees no sign of slowing down. 23 per cent of European decision makers are saying that their businesses will achieve full digital transformation for P2P in the next two years.

It seems businesses view manual processing of P2P as wholly or partly to blame for the situation. This is shown by 10 per cent of businesses in Europe saying they have already achieved full digital transformation of P2P.

Increasing European Collaboration

Rachel Griffiths, Business Process Consultant, Canon UK, comments: “In this challenging market, European businesses clearly feel that they need to get a better grip on P2P. They want to be able to access and pay for goods and services in the most cost effective and efficient way possible.

“Efficiency and productivity are key elements to any successful business. And technology is seen as the best platform through which to improve in these areas. In order to boost these factors through technology, businesses will need the support of trusted partners.

“At Canon, our expertise at providing cutting-edge technology not only solves business challenges, but supports the delivery of superior results in any business function, including P2P,” Griffiths said.

This view was echoed by Pete Loughlin, Managing Director at P2P consultancy firm, Purchasing Insight.

“The selection of a partner for P2P is very important and European businesses want to collaborate directly with solution vendors for this challenge.

There is a remarkably strong sentiment towards working with a single vendor across the entire P2P spectrum, rather than cherry picking point solutions. This ability to work with a single partner is what will provide end-to-end P2P solutions and services, under several delivery models. This will be crucial to the successful transformation into a P2P excellence organisation.”

5 Imperatives for Creating Greater Procurement Agility

Is your procurement organisation world-class? Improving agility is a key step in this journey, according to new research.

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New benchmarking insights from The Hackett Group have revealed that world-class procurement organisations now have 18 per cent lower operating costs than typical companies. They also operate with 28 per cent fewer staff, and generate more than twice the return on investment.

How are they doing it? Here are the five key strategies identified in Hackett’s latest research paper.

  1. Embrace digital transformation

World-beating procurement organisations have shifted to a complete digital experience for their business users, according to The Hackett Group Principal, Sourcing and Procurement Practice Leader Robert Derocher.

“This includes a true move to a paperless environment and the ability to work from anywhere on any device. Companies are implementing new, integrated source-to-settle technology platforms, primarily in the cloud, and adopting new capabilities that enable the agility required by their customers and the marketplace,” says Derocher.

Added to this is a convergence in software advances and wider use of new technologies. Cloud-based infrastructure, and virtual business and technology networks make up the first parallel. The second comes from rapidly transitioning user bases that are increasingly adept with new mobile technologies and business models.

The research found that world-class organisations spend 23 per cent more on technology per person. The investment yields real productivity gains, including 71 per cent lower cost per order than typical companies.

  1. Reallocate resources from transactional focus to value adding

A high level of automation also allows staff to devote more time to talent development and business performance-related activities. Digitally-enabled processes reduce errors, and make information easier to access, freeing procurement staff for higher-value work.

In addition to operating with dramatically fewer staff, leading organisations also allocate their people very differently. They dedicate a significantly larger percentage of the overall staff to sourcing, supply base strategy and planning/strategic roles.

They also have a much smaller percentage of people focused on operations and compliance management.

Top organisations spend 13 per cent more on outsourcing than typical companies.

They selectively outsource in areas such as procurement system support, supplier help desks and market intelligence to tap into greater expertise, augment knowledge, and leverage the capacity and capability of third-party providers.

This helps to increase agility by providing resources that can scale to demand and frees up procurement to focus on anticipating and responding to critical business needs.

  1. Leverage analytics-based decision making

Increased investment in cloud-based infrastructure and applications is creating tremendous new opportunities for procurement organisations to apply digital technologies to transform service delivery.

Increasingly, this becomes the platform for delivering a whole new class of services, such as information and predictive analytics to guide decisions.

According to the report, the hallmarks of information-centric world-class procurement organisations are:

  • Having a sophisticated information/data architecture that makes effective data analysis possible;
  • Planning and analysis capability that is dynamic and information driven;
  • Performance measurement that is aligned with the business.

World-class procurement organisations also invest a greater proportion on systems and tools to enable analytics capability.

  1. Adopt a stakeholder/customer-centric service design and delivery

The customer must be the focal point of all key activities and functions within procurement. With this approach, services are designed based on users’ wants and needs, rather than forcing them to change their behaviour to accommodate procurement’s internal processes.

World-class organisations are service-oriented and customer-focused in their approaches to procurement delivery. They design services and processes from the customer perspective or outside in rather than from the inside out.

According to the report, two mainstays of a formal service delivery model are global business services/shared services units and centres of excellence (COEs).

Overall, 39 per cent of all procurement organisations have some form of COE in place today. 

  1. Re-skill the procurement function

The report recommends the following steps to enhance the skills sets of procurement staff:

  • Invest in Talent Development

Hire or train procurement staff with the skills and business acumen required to meet the business needs of senior executives. Recruit staff from key business units in your company, and have them mentor and coach other business partners who have come up through the procurement ranks.

  • Increase your Team’s Business Acumen

Assign staff to cross-functional teams to provide exposure to different parts of the organisation’s operations. Make sure that having an understanding of business fundamentals is a requirement when hiring new staff.

  • Build Analytics Skills

Create a dedicated analytics group to fully leverage skills and tools across all areas of procurement.

  • Create a talent retention plan

World-class procurement organisations are nearly twice as likely to have talent retention planning in place, and see turnover rates that are more than 50 per cent lower than typical companies.

You can download your copy of The Hackett Group’s research here.

The Hackett Group is an intellectual property-based strategic consultancy and leading enterprise benchmarking and best practices implementation firm to global companies.

The Hackett Group also provides dedicated expertise in business strategy, operations, finance, human capital management, strategic sourcing, procurement, and information technology.

Procurement Faces Balancing Act as Business Uncertainty Rises

According to new research from the Hackett Group, procurement faces a balancing act in 2016 thanks to rising business uncertainty.

  • Key issues research shows budgets and staff expected to rise slightly in 2016
  • The Hackett Group recommends that to improve agility and reduce cost, procurement must harness the value of Big Data and control tail spend

According to new Procurement Key Issues research from The Hackett Group, Procurement leaders expect operating budgets and staffing to increase slightly in 2016. This comes at a time as they attempt to balance the need to reduce costs, with the desire to become a better strategic business partners and other priorities. 

Increased business uncertainty and risk are driving a resurgence in traditional cost reduction strategies, according to research. At the same time, the research identified critical development gaps in four key procurement strategy areas:

  • Becoming a better strategic partner to the business.
  • Increasing spend influence.
  • Improving agility.
  • Tapping supplier innovation.

These are seen as important targets for capability development.

Harnessing Big Data

To improve agility, The Hackett Group’s research recommended that procurement organisations become more information-driven and harness the value of ‘Big Data’. Unfortunately, the research found that over half of the study respondents currently lacked a formal market intelligence program, or were only in the earliest stages of adoption.

Study respondents also identified predictive analytics and forecasting as the trend with the greatest transformational impact for procurement over the next decade.

Finally, The Hackett Group’s research recommended that, to unearth new sources of savings, procurement examine tail spend. This is­ the 20 per cent of spend that is spread thinly across up to 80 per cent of suppliers.

This is an area where most procurement organisations have not focused heavily.  But with effort, The Hackett Group estimates that savings of 3-5 per cent for less mature sourcing organisations is possible, in part by identification of high-dollar maverick spending that should have been strategically sourced.

A complimentary version of the research is available for download, following registration, here.

Cost Reduction Pressures

According to The Hackett Group Global Procurement Advisory Practice Leader, Chris Sawchuk, “For 2016, companies are expecting to see business uncertainty and risk increase, along with greater struggles to grow revenue. So the pressure to reduce costs is increasing. At the same time, procurement leaders need to balance this with other more strategic priorities, like becoming a better strategic business partner.

“This is challenging, because for 2016, procurement operating budgets are expected to increase by just 1.1 per cent, and staffing will only grow by 2.2 per cent. So procurement can only afford to fund its highest-priority initiatives. One clear differentiator we saw in the research this year was the recognition of the value of improved market intelligence.

“Procurement leaders are realising that higher-quality information can help them drive greater business value. Big data has been a game changer when it comes to customer analytics, offering an unprecedented ability to quickly model massive volumes of structured and unstructured data from multiple sources. But procurement’s lack of maturity in market intelligence is a significant obstacle that must be overcome,” said Mr. Sawchuk.

The Hackett Group’s 2016 Procurement Key Issues research  is based on results gathered from executives from nearly 180 large companies in the US and abroad, most with annual revenue of $1 billion or greater.

Chris Sawchuk is a keynote speaker at the Big Ideas Summit on April 21st. Chris will be talking about how procurement is applying key agile capabilities in the areas of leadership, talent, service placement and information-driven performance.

If you’re interested in finding out more, visit www.bigideassummit.com, 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.