3 Hot Topics Procurement Won’t Be Able to Stop Thinking About Even at the Beach

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As we slog through the dog days of summer, many procurement folks are letting their minds wander to more pleasant thoughts — a drink by the beach, a few rounds on the back nine, a moment of peace (however fleeting) without the constant ding of email notifications from a smartphone. And as they pack for a well-deserved vacation, they’ll try leave behind some of those more persistent thoughts and concerns, as well.

What has been top of mind for procurement this year, and what has stressed them out to the point where they need to get away from it all for a bit? Here are the top three topics our readers have been sweating over for the last seven months.

Risk, Risk and Risk

Even though 2017 isn’t over yet, there have been enough rumors, viral tweets and shocking news stories to make business leaders feel like they’re sitting in the same dark box as Schrödinger’s cat. The one word that describes this year perfectly? Uncertainty.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is up for debate, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is dead. Imports may face a new tax at the border, if Paul Ryan ultimately gets his way. The healthcare debate is taking a break, for now, but as our analyst Tom Finn wrote, it could definitely use some more mud against the wall — at least from a supply chain perspective.

All of that and more have led to a marked increase in interest from Spend Matters readers on the topic of risk. As this uncertain year began, we covered the top five global risks procurement should be tackling, and as recently as July we cautioned again that procurement needs to a take a more proactive approach to risk management or suffer the consequences.

Need a guide to risk in all its nefarious forms and how to set up a program with supporting technology? Check out our Supply Risk Management and Compliance Landscape Definition and Overview, as well as our look at what digital supply risk management will look like in 2025.

Tail Spend

Cost savings will always be top of mind for procurement. Even if supply groups branch out into value-add activities like supplier innovation development, if the C-suite sees costs balloon in the meantime, no CPO will emerge unscathed.

But where to find those savings, with so many low hanging fruit already plucked? For many of our readers this year, the answer has been tackling tail spend.

Gaining control over the tail can help procurement reduce costs, get more spend under management and gain more recognition within the organization as a function. What’s more, better managing tail spend can lead to 7.1% savings on average, according to data compiled by The Hackett Group.

So, where to start? This was actually one of the first questions we received for our Ask Spend Matters series. For our first article answer questions from readers, we discussed the costs and opportunities found within a long supply tail. And taking a more forward-looking view, Chief Research Officer Pierre Mitchell examined how collective intelligence, automation and guided buying are coming together in emerging use cases to tackle the tail in an entirely new way.

The Future of Work

Just as you can’t swing a dead cat in the streets of San Francisco these days without hitting a Tesla (a hat tip to our illustrious Andrew Karpie for that one), it’s hard to talk about the labor and services supply chain without someone blurting out how the world of work is getting disrupted, innovated and transformed in ways we’ve barely begun to understand.

Hyperbole aside, there are changes afoot in the contingent workforce and services procurement world, and readers of Spend Matters should be aware by now that failing to keep up with the trends will carry serious consequences in the not so distant future.

What does this future really entail for large organizations? What does it really mean for internal business users, who need labor and services but are subject to budget constraints and time pressures? What about senior executives, who have their eye on growth, competitive advantage, profitability and shareholder value?

These are the types of questions Andrew Karpie, our research director for labor and services procurement, has been asking himself this year, in order to help practitioners get a better grip on the topic. He has also produced numerous guides to help define this rapidly changing space. Check out some of the most consulted below:

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