The World Procurement Congress closed today on a question and answer session with some of the leading CPOs and thinkers in procurement. Although many of the past problems have been solved by most functions, the panel concluded, there are more questions and problems to address for the future.
Angus McIntosh, CPO at Mars Petcare Europe, noted that during the event, “the language of procurement has changed”. In the past, buyers expressed anxiety over their status. Questions ranged over whether it was a viable profession, does it have a right to exist and how you should talk to CFOs.
Throughout the discussions of the two-day conference in London, McIntosh detects a change of emphasis. “There is a new found confidence in procurement”, the CPO believed, who are ready to face the challenges of the future.
It was an intriguing finishing point for the panel, as the discussion started on issues relating to talent management.
In order to attract talent into a growing and vibrant function, successes need to be transparent. Leo De Candia, SVP and CPO Global Supply Chain at Estée Lauder, noted that “you need examples of individuals being promoted to leadership positions to build momentum”.
A key aspect of ensuring the success of the function, the panel believed, was developing the persuasive skills to unite stakeholder.
Eva Wimmers, SVP Group Procurement at Deutsche Telekom believe that her organisation has become so successful at this that, “we are asked for help from other functional areas to understand how to speak finance and be heard.”
Indeed, as McIntosh notes, “CFOs/CEOs don’t speak Klingon, they speak the language they need to communicate with their stakeholders. It’s about using the currencies that your stakeholders are using. “
Ultimately, success depended on delivery. The key to delivery for Sidney Johnson, SVP Global Supply Management at Delphi, is speed. “Procurement for business leaders is considered a black hole.” It is the responsibility for leading organisations, Johnson believed, to deploy the technology and tools that can best speed important business decisions along in order to deliver stakeholder value.
For Cynthia Dautrich, Global Procurement Officer at Kimberly-Clark, delivery in the future will come from “sustained and preferred value creation”.
“It’s looking a those programmes you can invest in with suppliers. You can look at specific programmes and ask how we can design to value,” the CPO maintained.
Often, achieving this value comes from structure the organisation so that KPIs are aligned.
Eva Wimmers noted that “savings and quality targets going in separate directions can mean you fight each other.”
“If you want to take this seriously, you have to create ways of marrying targets,” the Deutsche Telekom CPO belied. “We created twins on both business and procurement side with shared KPIs and to help.”
But the questions that all procurement professions will need to consider in the future will increasingly be required to answer relate to the intangible benefits of value. Or, as Wimmers frames it: “How to get procurement as a value driver across all stakeholders?”