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The function has changed a lot over the past few decades. This has been evident in the ten years we have been producing this magazine, both in its early days as European Leaders in Procurement and today as Procurement Leaders.
Procurement chiefs have long sought to move out of the shadows of the back-office, to stop being known for buying the paperclips and staplers for less than they paid last year, and instead be known more for the value they can add in terms of reduced risk, new product innovations and greater analytical insight into the supply chain. The stories we have published since 2006 have documented this journey and will continue to do so.
But what lies next? What will we be talking about ten years from now?
There will be risk. Given the devaluation of sterling following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, economic uncertainty is unlikely to disappear any time soon, especially while the UK’s future relationship with the EU remains unclear. Supply chains that have enjoyed tariff-free trade for years will change, perhaps pushing more companies to localise their supply chains.
Sustainability will be a greater priority. Governments and consumers will call on businesses to make their products more sustainable and that pressure will filter through to procurement to drive improved performance along the supply chain.
There will also be a push to drive more value out of the supply base. That will no doubt centre on working with suppliers to develop new innovations.
What the function cannot afford to do, no matter the pressure applied internally, is return to progressive cost cutting.
Procurement’s job will always be to reduce costs, but, if it loses focus on the wider value it can add, then it will quickly lose the position it has established within the business as well as put at risk the more collaborative relationships it has built with suppliers.
This article is a piece of independent writing by a member of Procurement Leaders’ content team.