This week’s webinar notes are from a January 27th event hosted by BravoSolution and presented by Sigi Osagie (author of ‘Procurement Mojo’) and Peter Smith (Managing Director, Spend Matters UK/Europe). Once the event is available on demand, it should be available here.
The format of this event was ambitious, covering five common procurement topics in the context of how we can make our strategies more actionable: spend analysis, contract management, people/technology, category sourcing strategies, supplier value management.
There was one thing that really stood out to me in this event:
People and technology were combined for the sake of the discussion.
There is no question that I’d expect both people and technology to be included in a ‘major topics’ list for procurement. Assuming they weren’t lumped together strictly in the interests of time or slide count presents us with the opportunity to consider why they were addressed together.
Both people and technology are resources to be leveraged in support of procurement processes and can be upgraded or swapped out as necessary. I would make the argument that the other four topics from the event are process-driven, making people and technology the exceptions.
There similar trends with regard to the role of third parties in both categories. In technology, the days of complex, binding software implementations are long gone. SaaS has made it easier – not just to implement – but also to completely switch out technology platforms. Procurement-as-a-service provides the same kind of opportunity on the talent front. Don’t have the level of analytical knowledge or category expertise you need? Hire it in. There are plenty of providers ready to provide those capabilities as a service. It was also noted that having the right budget is a critical success factor for both, and whether tech and talent are being hired or contracted for, having the funds to support them is key.
I’m less interested in the implications of this combination for technology that I am for procurement professionals. Talent has long been a serious concern for CPOs. In fact, Osagie put it beautifully when he said [paraphrased] ‘It is not surprising to find people in procurement whose destinies lie elsewhere.’ Accepting the reality that many procurement teams are due for a shake-up, and comparing people to technology that is becoming more interchangeable and disposable all the time, suggests to me that the future of the procurement org structure will be far more fluid than it is has in the past.
A few other compelling points raised in the webinar:
- Procurement needs to spend more time talking to – or more specifically listening to - suppliers. Procurement teams that are uncomfortable with that are capping their potential from the outset.
- Know the difference between ‘stretch’ goals and ‘stress’ goals. It is healthy to push a team, but setting goals unachievably high sets a dangerous precedent.
- If you want to create value, either with suppliers or stakeholders, you have to define it. As long as value remains an amorphous concept, it will be unattainable.