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Is Agile Procurement the answer to Procurement’s glass-ceiling to the C Suite?

Procurement has had a good ride through the pandemic. A new level of engagement with stakeholders, better business alignment and a real sense of urgency developed following the much higher profile for the supply side during the crisis – both publicly (toilet roil shortages, etc) and corporately (business continuity dramas). 

So, what does this mean for the future of procurement? Starting now in 2022? And, particularly, how can procurement leverage our procurement success this year? A new PASA article to start 2022 suggested that first, six core challenges have to be overcome by CPOs this year. 

Realign your stakeholder needs 

One of these six key challenges facing us in 2022 is to realign to new stakeholder needs. Much of procurement’s success during the pandemic was the building of stronger stakeholder relations. 

These were nurtured upon a much greater alignment with their core business needs (speed, a sense of urgency, process short-cuts, enablement not obstruction). 

Leveraging this new relationship strength will be key to determining new business priorities in 2022 and, subsequently, new business approaches such as:

  • How can we utilise agile procurement approaches to speed up the sourcing (or re-sourcing) process? 
  •  How can we determine which of our sustainable procurement strategies is more important, or more brand-relevant, and therefore more worthy of resources (time, money and effort) than others?
  •  How can we agree which supply lines are high risk and threaten greater impact than others – so that we can re-source more assuredly? 

Stakeholder relations and the new realm

You might say that ‘stakeholder relations’ are not a ‘new’ challenge for procurement. But stakeholders saw procurement largely in a different light during the early stages of the pandemic – urgency, alignment, proactivity. This enlightenment has created the opportunity for stronger relationships which can work more proactively – and this is what is new. 

But how can we sustain this progress? How do we keep impatient stakeholders onside? Especially when business returns to a “new normal” and stakeholders facing 9 month go-to-market sourcing exercises say pointedly, “but you did it in days during the crisis!”

The four benefits of agile procurement – more than just speed

  1. Responsiveness to changing needs – the procurement process is a journey towards a purchase decision. Needs change, often quickly. Agile helps react to these changes better.
  2. A voice for the customer – agile prioritises the voice of the customer. Which is often the preoccupation of customer-facing stakeholders.
  3. Speed of purchase – is much quicker with agile, as it prioritises the project, concertinas process, but does not cut corners.  
  4. Earlier business benefit – the business benefits of any purchase, often outlined in detail in the written business case, are brought into your organisation much earlier than otherwise through agile.

Together these four key benefits make a compelling business case for an investment in agile procurement approaches in themselves. Yet, for Procurement, the benefit can be huge as well. Simply, these benefits address directly the long-standing angst of many procurement stakeholders – why does take so long? Is it the failure to combat this hard perception that has held procurement back from the C Suite? Can agile procurement approaches break the glass ceiling holding procurement back, and is now the time to grasp the opportunity that the pandemic has given us?

Supporting your agile procurement journey 

New to 2022, PASA has a range of enhanced offerings to support procurement practitioners learn and explore more about agile procurement. You can partake in the foundation Lean Agile Procurement workshop (LAP1) in just three mornings online. Hear from PASA’s agile coach on agile interactively and how to apply it directly to your own circumstances in your organisation. 

Reserve your place for the first course for 2022 on 28th February, the thirteenth LAP1 workshop PASA has run in ANZ since 2019. Further dates are also available. Progress then to the new LAP2 programme, covering agile negotiations and agile agreements for graduates of LAP1. 

Two additional supplementary courses are also available this year: 

Would your organisation benefit from more agile procurement or, at least, from better stakeholder relations? Can this be the year that Procurement smashes through that glass-ceiling to the C Suite?

Jonathan Dutton FCIPS is the CEO of PASA and an experienced procurement practitioner, manager, consultant and trainer.

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