My first experience of procurement goes back more than 40 years. It was a time when sources of supply were determined by development engineers and “functional experts”. Procurement ensured that the hand-written (in triplicate) PO was mailed to the supplier and they were paid at a later date.
Little altered when we entered the 70s and 80s, but things started to change in the 90s change has not stopped since. Many factors caused these changes, and one of the major ones was – and remains – the development of technology.
The past 20 years have seen the emergence of procurement-specific applications covering all aspects of the role, which have served to improve both the performance and contribution of the function, while also increasing productivity. These have enabled procurement chiefs to release vast levels of resource from administrative tasks to value-adding areas.
The past has been enabled by technology but the future of procurement will, I believe, be defined by technology and your ability to exploit it.
The pursuit of adding and creating value won’t change, but the manner in which you achieve it will.
Procurement sits on a mountain of data and the effective analysis of this will enable new sources of value to be created. Leading organisations will capitalise on the powers of cognitive computing to further automate and streamline processes, find new sources of supply and create an effective and integrated troika of supplier-buyer-user.
The skills required to be successful in this world are quite different to the function’s historical needs and the future leaders will be those who most quickly embrace these changes.
Procurement can, and will, play an increasingly important role in the success of the business, but in a much different way to before.
This contributed article has been written by a guest writer at the invitation of Procurement Leaders. Procurement Leaders received no payment directly connected with the publishing of this content.