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How Do Leading Procurement Professionals Allocate Their Time? .

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In our latest survey (click here), we compare organisations’ thinking on market conditions in 2015.

Alongside our usual analysis on key category and organisational plans, we are taking a concerted look at the time management of CPOs. Recent interviews with CPOs reveals, if you read between the lines, that there are many different approaches and concerns that pull CPOs in different directions, but also that, like most of us, procurement executives and managers would be more effective if they could focus their resources on key activities.

We have seen from other surveys, most noticeably from McKinsey, how CEOs spend their time. Generally, it seems, their responsibilities are divided between many disparate activities, from strategy-setting, to man-management to, worst of all, fire-fighting.

In our latest survey, we are taking this further by not only looking directly at procurement executives, but looking at how they wish they would spend their time. Although our survey is still open, we are already recording some interesting findings. It seems, amongst our initial sample of CPOs, that they would wish to spend talking with those outside to the organisation. Ideally, they would spend more time discussing directly with suppliers and benchmarking with other organisations and less with their own procurement staff or even internal stakeholders.

CPOs are yearning to be faces of the company to the outside world and not just internal fire-fighters, but being bound in time-draining activities can end up being a vicious cycle.

If this is borne out by the rest of our sample, this represents a significant change of direction for a function which traditionally earns its crust on its ability to demonstrate internal value to its other functions. We can place this into the broader narrative of procurement becoming a more a more strategically-aware, entrepreneurial function. But if this vision is to be fully realised, then the tone must be set from the top.

The only people that can liberate CPOs from the constraints of their role, are the CPOs themselves. And this relates to their own time priorities, meaning: organising more time for suppliers, blocking out time for strategy development and changing their form of communication to meet their new needs.

Perhaps 2015 will be a time for CPOs to focus on their own role and their own individual objectives?

Last year, our CPO and Category Planning Guides become an essential component of procurement’s budgeting and thinking about the future. You can take the survey here and compare your plans to others.

Jonathan Webb
Posted by Jonathan Webb