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European Forum 2016: Change in the air

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Politically Europe is facing a number of changes, not least of which is the impending exit of the UK from the European Union (EU) following a referendum back in June. As such, it was no surprise that talk during day one of the Procurement Leaders’ European Forum focused on how procurement is also changing and evolving.

 

More than 100 delegates from over 80 different organisations gathered in Amsterdam at the Beurs Van Berlage building, the one-time stock exchange, to discuss how the function is embracing change around the business as a whole, technology and M&As.

 

Time for change?

 

New technologies and specifically the Internet of Things (IoT) are changing how businesses develop products, according to Christian Galichon, CPO for LVMH, and procurement needs to adapt to this change.

 

Galichon said that his company had recognised that its watch-making division needed to evolve to keep up with the wave of wearable technologies entering the market. This evolution led the business to look at how it could connect itself to the connected world. After all, in 2015, the volume of sales of smartwatches equalled that of Swiss luxury watches.

 

For Galichon that meant building a new sourcing strategy one that would help the company improve its speed to market as well as getting involved early on at the design phase to ensure that supply chain risks are considered and an understanding about what the supply chain can deliver is clear.

 

Uniting procurement in an M&A

 

When Tony Roberts, head of group procurement at URENCO, was tasked in a previous role to align the procurement teams after a merger between Tarmac and LaFarge, the new procurement team was tasked with trebling its savings.

 

Not only that but he had to do that while uniting the two very distinct teams.

 

Roberts explained how, as a leader, you need to get your approach to the team right to ensure long-term success. But, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, he said, because they will happen.

 

“When you drink red wine in turbulence, it’s OK to spill some of it,” he said.

 

Edging ahead of the rest

 

When procurement is responsible for the sourcing of products used to help those with illnesses, having a competitive edge is very important, according to Novo Nordisk’s Lene Hylling Axelsson. This competitive edge, she said, came through strong cross-functional collaboration.

 

For each task procurement needs to pinpoint which function can help it resolve an issue so that the business as a whole can move forward.

 

To find out more about the European Forum, click here.

 

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

Rachel Sharp
Posted by Rachel Sharp

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