The Changing Landscape of Procurement

If someone had said to me 6 months ago that the UK would be leaving the EU, a new Prime Minister and “the robot revolution” in full flow I wouldn’t have believed them! But as the global landscape of business and politics continues to change, so must Procurement to adapt and manage this. We can see from the CIPS Agenda for their Annual Conference in London in October, that this is a main focal point:

“Procurement and Supply professionals have a crucial role to play in the immediate aftermath of the UK Brexit decision, acting as the suppressor of panic, not the creator guiding their organisations through turbulent times” (http://www.cipsannualconference.com/agenda/).

The refreshing thing for many Procurement Directors and CPO’s we work with is that it is “business as usual” as they continue with their objectives for 2016. While many would argue the act of buying isn’t perhaps changing at the same rate, the focus on Procurement Leaders to recognise the external pressures, global trends and the developing requirements of stakeholders is. Increasingly there is a need to be more agile with Procurement strategy, from who organisations work with to how they engage their suppliers; looking at not only short term impact but long term relationships.

What we are also seeing as a result of this, is a growing need to have the right soft skills to be a successful Procurement Professional, as the Oxford College of Procurement and Supply Chain support with:

“In the new era of procurement and supply chain management, there is a clear need for the development of soft skills. Whereas solid skills were always consider the only skills of real importance in the past, there is now a definitive case for more of a balance between solid and soft skills in procurement departments in order to succeed in the future” (https://www.oxfordcollegeofprocurementandsupply.com/why-soft-skills-are-crucial-to-a-procurement-professionals-success/)

When I started recruiting in Procurement in 2009, the emphasis was always on purely finding talent with the right technical skills for the role. However, while having candidates who understand and have experience in the categories they will be working with is still important, the emphasis on professionals who can engage and work collaboratively with senior stakeholders is just as critical. Having the blend of both strong soft and technical skills is clearly the winning formula in modern day Procurement. Another key area of the changing landscape is the rise of the Millennials in the business world. The Economist reported at the end of last year, millennials occupy 34% of business positions in 2015 compared to 29% for baby boomers. As Susan Avery mentions in My Purchasing Center at the end of last year:

“They’ve come to expect the ability to work from anywhere, anytime, through any channel (desktop, tablet, mobile).”

Susan goes onto explain: “Those looking to retain millennial talent need to ensure their company can meet their expectations when it comes to flexibility and the latest technology.” (http://www.mypurchasingcenter.com/technology/technology-articles/5-trends-impacting-procurement-professionals-2016/)

This means that up and coming Procurement talent that businesses invest in to grow within their company, are increasingly looking for businesses that can offer flexible working with access to their work at any time, and good procurement systems to access data at the click of a button. Hiring managers must adapt to this demand to make them an attractive employer to these Millennial Procurement Professionals. This is also meaning that Procurement is becoming more of a self-service operation, rather than the whole process being managed by Procurement. As a result, suppliers can submit their information efficiently for tenders, and internal stakeholders can work with Procurement in a quick and easy manner to get those invoices raised on time!

What the rest of 2016 will bring is difficult to guess after an eventful 2015, but what is certain is that whether you are a looking for Procurement Jobs in Surrey, Buyer Jobs in London or a Head of Procurement in Sussex, Procurement Professionals will need to continue to be adaptable to the evolving environment that we live in.

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About the Author

martinsmith

Senior Manager and experienced procurement recruiter. Positive and results orientated with a passion for finding innovative solutions and delivering on every project. Specialises in placing senior Procurement Professionals across London and the Home Counties.

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