The more recruiters you employ the more quality candidates you’ll receive for your vacancy – right? In this video Simon Edbury explains why this approach to recruitment is a myth, can communicate a whiff of desperation about your recruitment and will in fact push your assignment down a recruiter’s priority list.
In this video Simon Edbury looks at the importance of interviews timings. He answers several key questions including why it does matter when you see candidates and how you can take better control of the process. He also explores a key area of concern: Could you be losing your best candidate whilst interviewing others?
Following a rigorous external referencing procedure Edbury Daley has been awarded full accreditation by the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo).
In order to qualify for the accreditation and APSCo membership, Edbury Daley agreed to a strict code of conduct and passed an external quality audit with clients and candidates.
APSCo accreditation and membership “gives candidates and employers a trusted badge of quality” to reference and peace of mind that Edbury Daley is committed to excellence in recruitment.
As part of the external quality audit, numerous Edbury Daley clients and candidates were contacted. Questions asked covered the nature of the relationship with the company, awareness of any unethical dealings and any reasons why APSCo should not accept the company’s application for accreditation and membership.
Additional feedback from clients and candidates alike was unanimously positive and key to Edbury Daley securing accreditation, with the most frequent comments including ‘professional’, ‘great values’ and ‘reliable’ through to ‘honest’, ‘trustworthy’ and ‘integrity’.
Simon Edbury, director at Edbury Daley comments: “It’s fantastic to have the recognition for the quality of our conduct and for all our clients and candidates to see via the APSCo logo. We are always looking for ways to improve the experience of interacting with our business and our membership of APSCo is an important milestone on this journey.”
The Future of Procurement is a subject that has attracted a lot of column inches from thought leaders in the past couple of years, but the debate has picked up some real momentum in the past few months resulting in it being a central theme at several of this autumn’s procurement events.
Following on from our feature on The Future of Procurement in the last report where we examined the opportunities that exist for the function to evolve from a savings dominated agenda, Andrew Daley was asked to speak at two such industry events. He was fortunate enough to see some great input from several respected procurement leaders and offer a recruiter’s perspective to the debate. The discussions centred around the future skill set, the use of technology as a catalyst for change and the implications for professional development, staff retention and talent attraction.
Starting at the SAP Ariba Procurement Summit which was sponsored by Deloitte, there were excellent presentations from Guy Hubball (ex CPO of BP), Marcell Vollmer (SAP Ariba’s Chief Digital Officer) and Graham Wright of IBM, all of whom touched upon the skills debate to some extent.
Taking the various points raised and seeking out areas of agreement, we are able to offer the following summary of what these leaders told the audience:
Technology is already offering a step change in procurement capability. Early adopters are working on their data strategy with the objective of embracing spend analytics capability. Such data will also drive machine learning and the use of artificial intelligence to automate tactical activities and provide a platform for better decision making and insights.
A key challenge for procurement leaders is to map out their future vision of what procurement will offer to their organisation and develop a plan to recruit, retain and develop the people who will be able to focus on the strategic value-added activities that will be enabled by the current and next generation of software tools.
Common themes in the vision for these strategic value-added activities include a Consultative Sourcing model along the lines of the trusted advisor approach. This will include greater business partnering, collaboration both within the organisation and externally with suppliers, opening opportunities for supplier led innovation.
The challenge for procurement leaders is this area is twofold:
Firstly, identifying the skills required to deliver these services, for example, better relationship management skills to facilitate improved business partnering, an entrepreneurial mindset for supplier collaboration, whether that be through existing staff development, external talent attract or a combination of the two.
Secondly, embarking on a change programme to educate the business stakeholders about what this new iteration of the procurement profession can offer the organisation and creating a fertile environment for their teams to deliver on this.
One of the many upsides for the leaders who embrace this challenge is that it gives them a huge advantage in both existing staff retention and external talent attraction.
Aside from the focus on data and the debate about the future procurement skill set, it’s clear from the discussions at this event that the use of procurement bots is now becoming more common and will see significant growth in the near future. It’s widely expected that this will evolve into greater use of voice recognition technology along the lines of Amazon’s Alexa.
Companies seeking to create their own bespoke solutions are at risk of missing out on the investment and development in the cloud-based solutions from the major vendors that will be regularly updated and improved as the vendors learn from their broad customer base.
AI driven tools like IBM’s Watson can be deployed to support functional leaders and Group HR to streamline and improve internal career development capability, digital skills development and recruitment from both internal and external sources. This is a potential game-changer for organisations who are serious about hiring the best available talent in a market characterised by skills shortages.
SAP Ariba is incredibly passionate about CSR. Its “Procurement with Purpose” mantra was a strong theme throughout and it’s a subject that we talked about in some detail in our last report.
Again the technology exists to dig deep into the supply chain for visibility. Justin Sadler-Smith talked about an automotive client who has visibility into seven tiers of their supply chain, so there’s some exciting potential there for organisations who need to think very carefully about this area. It’s also a capability that will prove very valuable in a post Brexit UK.
For all this talk about the potential for technology to be the catalyst for procurement to evolve, to offer more to its stakeholders and become a truly strategic function, the fact remains that the people who are able to talk about this from a position of strength and experience, rather than a future desire to achieve it, are in the minority as outlined above with the figures from the Deloitte CPO Study.
We estimate less than 10% of functions are making real headway on this digital transformation journey and as Andrew Daley ]told the audience at the SAP Ariba event: “Procurement leaders should be inspired by what they’ve seen from the profession’s leaders, inspired to go and develop their future vision for their procurement function in their organisation.”
All the technology tools are there, all the learning resources are available, all the thought leadership is fairly consistent in its vision for the future. It’s up to procurement leaders and the emerging stars who seek to emulate them in future to go out there and make it happen.
The good news for our clients is that we are mapping out the innovators and early adopters, tracking the people who have these skills, and working with the people are who are passionate about hiring them.
A week later Basare Connect offered a slightly different emphasis but an equally enjoyable range of topics to consider. The common theme was as you would expect – the opportunities that exist for procurement and finance professionals to embrace the digital transformation opportunities as outlined above.
UK&I Country Manager Louis Fernandes spoke about the meeting of mind and machine, the opportunities and the limitations that exist when humans work with the latest technology to embrace “Superfinance” as he put it.
This teed the audience up nicely for what followed and something that Basware do very well – their events have speakers from outside the immediate procurement and finance world to give a different perspective from many of the other technology vendors. They give the attendees something of an education and a great deal of food for thought. They are also a lot more interesting than a detailed walk through of the challenges of a P2P implementation project!
Last year it was Matthew Syed (The Times journalist and “Ping-pong guy” from the BBC podcast) who gave the audience a fascinating presentation entitle “Black Box Thinking.” This time it was Rohit Talwar, noted Futurist, Author & Advisor.
His presentation “AI and the Next Frontiers of Business” outlined a vision of some mind boggling possibilities underpinned by the development of AI that are potentially closer than we think. He also explained several examples where AI is already infiltrating our lives in many ways we don’t realise.
His work as an advisor to some major corporations enabled him to outline how the best organisations are typically looking 10 years ahead to what they might achieve with technology and explained how that enables planning now which in turn develops ideas we can act on now.
This might seem like an obvious concept but it’s one that few organisations have truly embraced.
Another point of interest that he raised was about how leadership skills will need to evolve, particularly for hybrid organisations that truly combine the power of humans with the potential of Artificial Intelligence. These organisations will present unique challenges that are still very rare now.
This observation about leadership was part of the presentation where he touched on the challenge of developing new skill sets for the new world, a subject regular readers will know we are passionate about and one that we’ll explore further below. It’s clear from what Rohit was saying that like procurement and finance, other professions clearly have their own challenges to reinvent themselves in a digital world.
Much as we’d like to cover the subjects Rohit talked about in more detail, we wouldn’t be able to do them justice in this report. So our advice is this: if you are interested in understanding more about where the technology might be heading in the next 5-10 years then you could do much worse that read one or more of Rohit’s books as part of your own personal development. We certainly intend to.
Amongst the breakout sessions later in the day was Peter Smith of Spend Matters talking about “What’s Left For Procurement.” Regular readers of Spend Matters will know that Pater and his colleagues have already devoted a lot of coverage to the future of procurement in an automated world. Their thought leadership on the subject is largely in line with what was debated at the SAP Ariba event and you can read more about it here.
Our own Andrew Daley followed Peter at the Basware event with his presentation entitled Climbing the Career Ladder in an Automated World. Picking up on the rather concerning data from the Deloitte CPO report mentioned above, Andrew’s message was to take responsibility for your own personal development and not wait for. He told the audience to embrace the new way of thinking before the opportunity passes them by, as the job market is likely to approach a tipping point where digital procurement skills will become increasingly valuable.
He talked about how people can utilise the myriad of learning resources available to them to help with this professional development and then “go find a visionary leader to work for.”
HIs audience debated the skills that will be required by procurement professionals in the future. Amongst those that were suggested were the ability to envision what the possibilities are for the future of procurement technology and a willingness to self-educate in the absence of suitable training.
Broader commercial skills, such as a wider understanding of the financial implications of procurement-led decision making and a more entrepreneurial mindset to help facilitate more business partnering, collaboration and seeking out supplier led innovation were also up for discussion.
Of course these subjects will continue to prompt discussion across the profession in the coming months and years and we’ll be sure to be part of that debate. We’ll also be looking for those people who are at the forefront of procurement evolution on behalf of both the hiring companies we work with and the individuals who seek suitable opportunities to advance their career with the right organisations.
To read the rest of The Procurement & Spend Management Insider where this report was originally published, you can download it here.
Video content is a huge part of both our personal and business lives now. So we’ve decided to embrace the trend and have produced some videos aimed at sharing our professional experience with you.
Our ‘vlogs’ will help you understand more about how you can improve your recruitment methods when hiring, advance your own career and learn more about the job market trends in areas like procurement technology.
We have had them produced professionally and the content is based on our many years of experience working in the world of recruitment and the procurement sector.
In the week before Christmas, we spent a very enjoyable day filming what we believe will be some really valuable content. Take a look at the pictures below as Andrew, Simon and Pete make their debuts in front of the camera.
Hiring a specialist creative video producer proved to be a wise investment as we are delighted with the final results. The series of short videos will be published in February 2019 so watch out for details on social media and via our monthly e-briefing newsletter.
What are your training and education options?
This is the second in the series where my objective is to help procurement professionals equip themselves with the skills to embrace the digital procurement revolution. Each article will share valuable resources to help facilitate personal development. The links at the end of this particular piece focus on training and further education resources.
Imagine this scenario. You hear about a job opportunity that sounds really exciting, you might have seen an advert, heard about it through your personal network or been contacted by a recruiter about it, but it’s really got your attention. You think: “that’s what I want for the next stage of my career”.
Now this job offers the chance to really embrace the potential of procurement technology and that’s where you see your career going, but your current employer has been held back from supporting your ambitions because of internal barriers to adopting the latest spend management solutions.
But this other company has a visionary procurement leader and one of the best solutions available in the market today. You’ve read that they are really using it effectively and seem determined to get the best value they can in S2C, P2P, supply chain collaboration etc in future. That’s what you want – a chance to work in that environment.
This is a situation I envisage becoming more common because we are approaching a tipping point in the professional job market, particularly in procurement. I’ll come back to this tipping point subject later in this article.
So how do you make yourself stand out from the crowd if you haven’t got experience in a relevant spend management solution?
Before I answer that, here’s something to consider. The other side of this particular coin is the problem facing the hiring manager at the company in question. He or she is struggling to find these skills for the salary range they want to pay because they are in such short supply in the market generally, and everyone who is interested in applying for this role wants to develop the skills in question but doesn’t have them yet.
So what’s the solution?
Well my advice to the hiring manager in this situation would be to take a very pragmatic approach to this piece of recruitment.
This is because the perfect candidate (which rarely exists anyway!) might not be available to them because they are ahead of the curve on the use of procurement tech, and most external talent won’t be at the same level as their existing people.
So the manager needs to identify a list of essential and desirable skills, but he/she must understand that they may have to hire principally on transferable skills and the ability to develop the other key skills in the medium term. So they need to really think about longer-term potential rather than hiring someone who can do the job from day one.
So back to you. You are in competition with people with similar procurement skills, the same aspirations, but little or no direct experience of using the relevant generation of technology.
How do you make yourself stand out from the crowd?
In the absence of suitable opportunities within your current employer, the answer is a program of self-development using relevant studying resources.
By doing as much as possible to learn about your skills gaps, you can bridge that gap and send a very powerful message to the hiring manager in the process. You are effectively saying “I haven’t been able to get these skills in my current job, so I’ve invested a great deal of my own time learning about them”.
That gives you a steeper learning curve that will get you into a position where you are effective, more quickly than those who haven’t done this AND it tells the hiring manager you’ve got the right ambitions, attitude and qualities. THIS CAN BE HUGELY PERSUASIVE TO A TOP FLIGHT PROCUREMENT LEADER.
So what resources are out there to help you on this journey?
Unfortunately, there are no specific training courses available on the CIPS website for digital procurement. However here are some alternatives.
If you are particularly interested in focusing on the use of spend management solutions in the future, then this route may be for you.
Most vendors offer online training services to support the use of their solutions. It may be worth contacting them directly to see if you can pay to use these services if your employer isn’t a customer. Here are some examples of what’s available:
- SAP Ariba offer training through their SAP Learning Hub
- You could do a Coupa certification course online via the Coupa University
- Jaggaer typically offer training to support a purchase of their software
Many of the vendors offer free webinars to demonstrate their solutions. Of course, they are designed to sell the solution and generate leads for their salespeople to follow up, but they are generally a worthwhile exercise to see how it all works. Spend Matters promote quite a few of them so keep an eye on their site and/or register on the individual vendor websites so they email you with dates.
Even if you can’t make the exact time it’s still worth registering as you can usually access the content afterwards via a recording. You’ll also hear about their events if you are on the mailing list and they are generally worth attending if you get invited.
Professional bodies like The P2P Network also produce some good content. Here’s a link to their webinar archive.
Similar to eWorld, The P2P Network also have an event that offers some interesting content where you can learn from the various presentations. The next eWorld is on the 5th March 2019 whilst the P2P Networks Annual Summit is 5th June. Here’s the speaker line up (I’m delighted to have been invited to take part): Both events are also a great opportunity to network with peers.
An alternative way to approach your personal development is further education through a formal qualification. The benefit of something like an MBA is that it could give you a broader business perspective which would help with the development of skills like business partnering and supplier collaboration which are perceived to be of greater value moving forward.
There’s also a variety of MSc courses in procurement and supply chain. Here’s a useful article on the various options.
So I hope you have found this article useful. I talk about this sort of thing nearly every day of my working life but hopefully, it will be helpful to you as a guide to what you can achieve and the value of it. Some might say that this is obvious, but even those who “get it” are rarely able to find the time in their busy lives to dedicate some time to self-education.
My advice is to find that time, whether you take a few days off, promise yourself you’ll do an hour every weekend or commit to enrolling on a new course because time invested now will pay dividends in the future. I’ll talk about why this is the case in one of my forthcoming videos entitled The Tipping Point – the future of the procurement job market. Watch out for that in January 2019.
The Future of your Career – Part 1 – This article is the first in a regular series from Andrew Daley offering career development advice and sharing learning resources. Whilst aimed at procurement professionals with a desire to embrace the new era of digital procurement, this series should prove valuable to anyone seeking professional guidance on protecting the future of their career.
“Procurement faces a wake-up call as tectonic shifts in technology threaten to completely alter the function, leading eventually to its automation.” (Source: The Future Of Procurement Technology by AT Kearney).
This quote was the first slide in my presentation at the Basware Connect event in October entitled “Climbing the career ladder in an automated world”.
At SAP Ariba’s Procurement Summit a week earlier, one of the clear themes of the day was that the profession has a unique opportunity to change itself with the technology available, but it has to take responsibility to further its own agenda.
My conclusion from the two events was that the profession can’t wait and allow change to happen to it – it has the embrace the opportunity and dictate its own agenda.
Whilst on stage myself at the SAP Ariba event, I talked about the lack of spending by CPOs on training budgets as outlined by recent research from Deloitte. So my message to audiences at both events was to take personal responsibility for their own development, as it’s up to them to embrace the opportunity for the future of procurement, individually and as an entire profession.
So I’ve decided to continue this theme of developing yourself, or as one of the delegates at Basware put it “self education”, with some regular guidance on personal development that I hope will help you take advantage of all the resources available now, rather than waiting for your employer to invest in appropriate training.
People who take action now will give themselves a significant advantage over those that don’t next time they enter the job market.
This month I’m going to start by sharing what I consider to be some really useful learning resources for those seeking to understand more about the digital procurement revolution.
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the Spend Matters website. It’s the ideal place to stay appraised of developments in the technology and thought leadership on the skills required for the future of procurement. I’d advise frequent visits to the site. Alternatively you should follow them on Twitter for regular updates on their excellent content.
Their writers do a great job of cutting through the hype and getting to the crux of the matter. They also keep readers updated with dates for the wide variety of procurement conferences and events which they attend themselves and then write useful reviews.
If you want to dig deeper yourself and have the time, there’s a vast amount of “thought leadership” available on the evolution of procurement. The leading management consultancies and software vendors are particularly fond of publishing research and opinion so it’s well worth registering for white papers from the likes of Deloitte (here’s the 2018 CPO Study) and AT Kearney. Hackett Group has also produced some good reports on digital transformation.
Amongst the software vendors there are always plenty of learning resources available online. Some are quite salesy, while others try to be more educational. SAP Ariba’s Procurement 2025 is a particularly good one, and talks about the golden age of procurement. You can access it here.
One of the benefits of registering to download this content is that you’ll get updated when they publish new content and potentially get invited to their events. I’m a big advocate of attending these conferences. They are a great opportunity to hear about best practice from the profession’s leaders and learn about the power of the technology available now, and in the near future. They also offer a great networking opportunity which might prove invaluable next time you are in the market for a new job!
Of course, social media is another way to find all this sort of content. You don’t need to be particularly active on the various platforms if you don’t like them, you can still gather useful information when it suits you.
Much as we love LinkedIn, the more people you connect with, the more noise and irritating Facebook style behaviour you are exposed to. This reduces its effectiveness as a news source in my opinion.
One way to address this is to use its group functionality effectively. By joining relevant groups you are able to refine your content and focus on areas where the information is more relevant to you.
There are lots of good procurement options to research. We’ve assembled a great community around the procurement tech’ market which you are welcome to join here: Procurement Technology Specialists
You should also take a look at Procurious if you haven’t done so already. They are a much more specialist resource for procurement pros. They are doing a great job of promoting developments in the profession through their “Big Ideas” initiative. You can register as a digital delegate for their forthcoming Big Ideas Summit in Zurich here.
This is what they’ve had to say about this event:
“For the first time ever, we’ll be filming and streaming the entire day’s event via the Digital Delegates group on Procurious. If there was ever a time to register for one of our summits, it’s now. Featuring presentations and interviews from some of Europe’s top procurement leaders, we’ll be discussing procurement and supply management towards 2030, the future of talent, automation, blockchain, diversity and so much more.”
I hope you find some of this content interesting, hopefully even inspiring, and it will help you to start thinking about the future of your career more if you haven’t done so recently. We’ll be looking at other subjects such as further education and training opportunities as this series develops, but I’d like to finish with a couple of points from me.
A great lesson I learnt a few years ago when Simon and I started the business was to “begin with the end goal in mind”. So I’d advise that you start by developing a vision of where you see yourself career wise in say five or 10 years. Then try to work out a plan for how you are going to achieve your goals using all the resources available to you in the modern world.
Finally, some thoughts on what I’m going to focus on myself for my personal development. At the aforementioned Basware event I particularly enjoyed the keynote speech from respected “Futurist” Rohit Talwar. He’s inspired me to look further into the future about what’s next in business technology so I’ve just started one of his books – The Future of Business.
Here’s one of his presentations on YouTube – he’s well worth watching.
Also having really enjoyed my recent public speaking engagements I’ve decided it’s time for us to take the next step and do some video content for our website for the first time. I’ve challenged my colleagues to join me so watch out for our vlog debuts in January. Filming starts just before Christmas. Should be an interesting challenge!!
My next article in this series will be in January. Please let me know if you’ve got any questions that you would like me to address (confidentially of course!!!) via email@example.com I’m also interested to hear about what you are doing in terms of your professional development.
If you’ve found this article useful, you REALLY need to read our Procurement & Spend Management Insider report. It’s designed to give you an insight into the employment market conditions for your skills, so it really would be remiss of you to miss it! You can register to download the latest edition here.
Director, Procurement & Spend Management
Early November will see the publication of a new edition of The Procurement & Spend Management Insider. It tells us that “we live in a period of significant change with uncharted waters ahead of us. Times are changing, politically, economically and technologically. All of these considerations have implications for the procurement profession. They present both new challenges and exciting opportunities.”
The report, widely viewed by the procurement and spend management professions as the leading analysis of its kind, will tell you what we are hearing and seeing from our unique vantage point as specialist recruiters and thought leaders working at the forefront of the developments in the profession.
We will address several key issues including:
- All the latest news from the procurement technology sector
- Observations on recruitment market trends including procurement leadership, the interim market, procurement technology and consulting
- The impact of Brexit on the job market and procurement profession
- Views on the recent Procurement Technology events and the subjects discussed
- Thoughts on the future of the procurement skill set
- Advice on how to progress your career in an automated world.
There are several easy ways to get access to the report as follows:
Download the last version published March here, you’ll automatically be added to the mailing list.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org asking for a copy.
In our previous article on this subject, my colleague Simon Edbury wrote about the opportunities that exist for procurement functions to help improve their organisation’s approach to Talent Attraction.
I thought it would be valuable to share an example of best practice in recruitment to illustrate the benefits it can bring, benefits which beg the question “why do so many procurement functions continue to apply an old school methodology to how they manage their recruitment spend” because that’s what we still see in our day to day work.
At Edbury Daley we have had a clear message to the market for some time now and in simple terms, it reads like this:
There is a talent shortage in most areas of the procurement technology marketplace so if you want to hire the best people you need to start thinking differently about how you approach your recruitment.
It’s a message that the clients who value our service really understand and it is best demonstrated by the procurement solution providers that we recruit for and their customers who need key skills to reap the rewards of their investment in the technology available.
With greater emphasis being put on the digital procurement skill set, these market conditions are going to get more acute and that’s one key reason why we are committing ourselves to that area. It’s the future of procurement and companies that are serious about hiring those skills will need our sort of expertise if they want to achieve their recruitment objectives.
In our recent Insider report, we talked about the market conditions for these sorts of in-house appointments. Here’s what we had to say:
One area that … may lead to growth in in-house procurement technology roles is Spend Analytics.
We are seeing more evidence of dedicated roles in this area having worked some interesting projects ourselves and heard about others that have been advertised or made through internal appointments.
A typical example would be that of an organisation already using one or more elements of a broad platform, for example, S2C, P2P, contract management etc. and therefore capturing plenty of potentially valuable data but not using it effectively.
By appointing a specialist to review the existing landscape, assess the available data and formulate a strategy to implement an effective Spend Analytics strategy, procurement leaders are starting to realise the value available in the data.
In making these appointments we are considering people from both the procurement profession and from much broader data science backgrounds depending on the preferences of the hiring managers.
However, we are still at the stage where we have more conversations with leaders who are planning in this area than those who are able to instruct us to start the hiring process.
The aforementioned appointment of a Procurement Data Lead for a FTSE 100 pharma company was an excellent example of a client investing in its supplier relationship to increase the likelihood of a successful outcome. Here’s what they did that ultimately made the difference:
They consulted with us at the very beginning of the process when scoping out the role. This enabled them to:
- a) understand the availability of the required skills
- b) assess the likely cost in terms of salary
- c) set realistic expectations within the business about the choices available to them.
They then worked with us to develop a realistic job specification for the role featuring both essential and desirable skills/experience. I believe our guidance here was very beneficial to the client.
We then helped them develop the go to market strategy for this role which would arm us with the ammunition required to convince both active, and more perhaps importantly passive job seekers, that this was a role offering a great career opportunity and therefore worthy of serious consideration
They gave us exclusivity on the recruitment process which incentivised us to go the extra mile in candidate sourcing, confident in the belief that our time and effort would be rewarded.
So by the time we went to the market we were armed with everything we needed to attract the best relevant talent for our client and they had both a clear brief and a realistic expectation of what they could hire for the desired salary band.
The result was a successful appointment despite the relative scarcity of the desired skill set. We attribute much of the success to the partnering approach the client took with us in the planning stage of the process. It set a tone for the entire recruitment campaign that many would do well to replicate.
If your approach to recruitment would benefit from this type of approach and the use of our expertise in the procurement technology world, it would be interesting to discuss how we can help you.
Why not get in touch via email@example.com
Technology and the Procurement Skill Set
It’s clear that we believe that the increased use of technology by procurement and supply chain presents real opportunities for the function to advance in many different ways. Based on what we hear from our attendance at various events and through the conversations we have all the time with the procurement leaders in our network, the obvious area of advancement is in the use of technology and particularly the power of the data.
So is this the area that can unlock the opportunity for procurement departments to move beyond a savings dominated agenda? Will it make their contribution more important strategically, increasing efficiency and releasing resources in the process?
We recently observed a respected leading procurement consultant saying words to the effect that future procurement teams will need to develop new skills as transactional tasks become increasingly automated due to innovation. He ventured that analytical roles will grow in importance as will the need to track the impact of the solutions otherwise “how will we demonstrate the value of the investment in the software?”
Some more thoughts from Justin Sadler-Smith of SAP Ariba on the subject of how the latest generation procurement technology/software can help facilitate the evolution of the procurement function from a savings obsessed agenda to a broader contribution for mid-market and enterprise organisations.
“Savings is the day job and still the focus for most procurement professionals. However, the actual savings reported are regularly challenged in term of P&L impact and, taken in isolation, can undermine the significant value a procurement professional can deliver. “Technology exists today to provide a single source of truth with supplier engagement across the Procurement Lifecycle.
This is either through single platform or via best of breed… the preference being the former to avoid costly and time-consuming additional integration. “It still amazes me that some organisations have still to be persuaded on the value of Cloud.
This opens up so much possibility, particular with big data and transparency. Done with the right applications, this data becomes actionable information available across the organisation to make informed decisions. This is where the procurement function can shine and deliver far in excess of questionable cost savings.
“For example, by allowing the transactional areas to be automated, Procurement professionals can now be targeted to strategic initiatives i.e. supplier risk mitigation and innovation. “Those organisations who have taken this step with utilising the latest technology have a clear competitive advantage and Procurement has a seat at the table rather than under it.”
We’ve done a lot of research on this and we believe the future of procurement is doubtless going to be shaped by data, but this means more than simply digitizing invoices. Gathering data from sources such as Aggregator, Northern Lights and SupplierIQ can allow you to build strong models when combined with your own data, but less obvious choices can have a huge impact on the efficacy of your overall forecasting too.
A good example of this is at IBM – they acquired The Weather company in order to make use of the massive amount of data they have and use it to inform clients about possible risks in the supply chain long before they become an actual issue. Utilising data in this fashion doesn’t mean replacing the whole procurement department with data scientists; at IBM they’re evolving their current procurement practitioners into consultants by making them more aware of data.
The future procurement consultant may well be a hybrid data scientist and procurement professional, and with few people in the industry with this specialism, they will be in high demand. The new generation of Chief Data Officers or Chief Digital Officers as some organisations are branding them are all about how they use the data, not just the digitising of it. Tools like Watson Analytics are going to be a big part of this and procurement needs to embrace them.
Of course procurement practitioners will still need relationship building and influencing skills as has been the case for many years, but something like AI can be hugely helpful by improving efficiency in areas like the development category management strategies. What is clear is that the procurement skill set is going to evolve further on the back of advancements in technology. There is an opportunity to use this to change the perception at board level and procurement leaders will need to decide on a strategy of how to achieve this. They will need to hire and/or train these new skills whilst maintaining a strong sense of the core skills like stakeholder engagement and strategic sourcing.
As mentioned earlier in this report, we are starting to see an increase in specialist roles dedicated to the use of data in procurement departments. It’s still a relatively rare skill set and one we would encourage ambitious procurement professionals to embrace with an eye on their professional development. We are working with The Data Science Foundation to promote procurement as an attractive career choice, particularly for their growing graduate membership. We expect our clients to benefit from this association in future as we seek out the best talent in the profession.
And if you’d like to read the full Insider report you can download it here.