Pushing the boundaries of procurement in South Africa


Procurement is developing at an unprecedented rate across the world. Nowhere is this best illustrated than in South Africa, where Procurement Leaders recently held a series of discussion sessions with some of the country’s leading functions.


Meeting with the likes of Nedbank, South African Reserve Bank and First Rand Bank, Procurement Leaders discussed some of the key trends shaping the function in 2018 and the insights show how procurement is quickly maturing in the country and teams are delivering value to the organisations they serve.


We looked at the transformation of category management; ways to improve business alignment; how a function can lead, rather than be led in, the development of supplier relationship management; and the role of technology.


Strategic category management: Most functions are looking at how they can transform basic category management processes into something more strategic. Essentially, they want to move from the simple categorisation of expenditure to a more collaborative approach, drawing in stakeholders from across the business to help develop strategies.


We found differing levels of maturity in South Africa but most of the organisations either embarking on or moving forward on this journey. Our recommendation to all functions looking to do this is to ensure you upskill less-experienced category managers to ensure the success of category management.


Business alignment – It isn’t always easy to talk the language of the business. Procurement is used to its own terminology. But in today’s world, where the function is looking to squeeze as much value out of all areas of the business, it has to talk the language of stakeholders to gain access to new spend areas and build trust.


Procurement functions in South Africa are aware of the need to develop this wider business language but many suggested that it was early days for their teams.


Category leadership skills – Harnessing emotional intelligence and technical procurement skills to make the move from being led to leading is key for procurement. An interesting observation from one CPO was that one of his stakeholders had said: “I don’t care how much you know until I know how much you care”. Clearly, if the function doesn’t have that ability to think beyond hard savings its scope and reach will be limited.


There was recognition among those we met in South Africa that procurement needed to enhance its skills in terms of business acumen, leadership and emotional intelligence. Many said that they had been utilising a Skills Assessment Matrix (available to Procurement Leaders members) to identify those in their teams with ’soft skills’ who they can then use to mentor and develop others.


Procurement in South Africa is certainly on the right development track and it will be interesting to see the value those functions deliver to their businesses over the coming years.


This article is a piece of independent writing by a member of Procurement Leaders’ content team.


Procurement Leaders research and insight, tools and templates, and extensive professional network are now supplemented by executive advisory services to CPOs. Procurement Leaders members should contact their account manager for more information.

Cara Wiggins
Posted by Cara Wiggins

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