The COVID-19 pandemic might well have brought about unprecedented supply chain disruption, but it has also been procurement’s time to shine.
In the past 20 months, the profession has had the opportunity to demonstrate its worth and bust several outdated procurement myths – once and for all.
1. Procurement professionals are always on the lookout for the cheapest supplier
The procurement profession has long been associated with cost reduction with many assuming, until quite recently, that finding the cheapest supplier in every circumstance was the top priority.
Driving innovation through supplier collaboration, nurturing vendor relationships, implementing sustainability or diversity initiatives, and mitigating supply chain risk are not new components of procurement’s role, but they have become especially critical in recent months and all the more appreciated.
In the face of such large-scale disruption, organisations have depended on procurement teams to keep supply chains operational, find alternate suppliers, and transform service and product offerings at short notice. To prioritise security over cost, many businesses are looking to move away from just-in-time (JIT) supply chains and considering reshoring their operations, which will see procurement’s purpose and value-adding activities be better recognised by the organisation at large.
2. Procurement processes slow everyone down
Employees want to be able to buy products and services of their choosing when they want to and with as little hassle as possible, so it’s no surprise that procurement teams are often regarded as roadblocks to business progress and efficiency. Employee frustration at what they perceive to be pointless red tape, coupled with a lack of awareness about their organisation’s proper procurement processes, often results in increased maverick spending.
Post-pandemic, many organisations have accelerated their digital transformations, investing in new technologies and eProcurement tools that serve to make the buying process more seamless for employees.
In addition, most procurement teams have revaluated their risk mitigation strategies, which has ultimately resulted in them consolidating their supply base and implementing comprehensive preferred supplier programmes. Again, these changes make it easier for employees to buy products and services while benefiting from their organisation’s strong supplier relationships.
3. Procurement professionals must be ruthless at the negotiating table
Long gone are the days when procurement professionals were expected to be ruthless at the negotiating table to drive down costs and show the supplier who’s boss. It’s widely accepted that fostering long-term, meaningful supplier relationships is the key to procurement success, but this has never been more apparent since the outbreak of COVID-19. Organisations repeatedly found themselves at the mercy of their suppliers, many of whom halted production, grappled with staff shortages, or struggled to keep up with changing or increased demands throughout the pandemic.
Procurement teams that had established trusting and transparent relationships with their vendors were in a much better position to negotiate and obtain the products and services they needed.
4. Procurement professionals need a solid background in procurement and supply chain
It’s becoming increasingly common for professionals from a whole range of backgrounds to pursue a career in procurement. Fortunately, organisations are far more open to hiring talent with a diverse range of skills, including core soft skills, and upskilling or training them as necessary.
Post-pandemic, employers are hyper-aware of the need to hire people who can quickly adapt to changing business demands and work well with key internal and external stakeholders. Indeed, the top skills required for procurement professionals include negotiation adaptability, risk management, data analytics, and emotional intelligence (EQ).