Nick Brazier of Allianz at ProcureCon Europe – Procurement Can Accelerate “Time-to-Market”

Another outstanding session at the recent ProcureCon Europe event came from Nick Brazier, Headof Procurement in the UK for Allianz Insurance, the “32nd biggest firm in world”.  He described the last couple of years as he has looked to take the function from a fairly basic level up the maturity curve, and in doing so, he seemed (to us anyway) to demonstrate exactly how a 21st century CPO needs to think about the function and the role of procurement.

Right at the start of his session, he said this. “Procurement has to be ready to react in a fast-moving world – we can’t be seen to be holding things up”.  That is key, not just for him but for all of us in the profession, we would suggest. In Allianz, the EO has said that “the models for success that we’ve known in the past may be meaningless in the future”, so procurement is tuned into this view.

However, you can’t escape the regulatory complexity in the financial services industry. There is much to be done in this area, as well as paying attention to the ethical concerns of the consumer and legislation such as the modern slavery act. “We have to meet these needs in a lean and practical way”, says Brazier.

He defined a procurement roadmap around mission, organisation, tools, governance and spend o. optimisation. There was also recognition that the team needed to balance the long-term goals and delivery of short term benefits. The mission is “ working collaboratively with all stakeholders and developing procurement strategies that deliver optimal value to the business” – sounds good.

There is also a set of procurement values; “customer focused, collaboration, building trust, commercial expertise, practical solutions”.

The last is the most important, says Brazier “what we do must work”.  The goal is to position procurement at the centre of third party relationships, and the pitch to internal stakeholders is that procurement can give the business value for money, peace of mind and speed to market.

The positing is skilful and cold be copied by many functions, we suspect. “Come to us early in the process and we will help you get to where you want to be quickly. And you won’t need to worry about legal, information security and such issues when you engage with suppliers - we will bring practical solutions to you”.

That is the very  opposite of the ideas that procurement “hold things up” or “stop us doing things” that too many stakeholders in too many organisations still hold!

Brazier says that procurement can bring “new supply market solutions to accelerate development of our customer journey” and develop the innovation capability of strategic suppliers.  But he also recognises the need to optimise spend to re-invest in digital and growth opportunities. However, combining those different aspects allows procurement to communicate a much more positive message than just “savings”.

There was more; but that should give you the flavour and we certainly found this one of the most inspirational sessions at the event, with much that is worth noting for others. And that message of procurement as a function that reduces time to market and promotes innovation (rather than the opposite) has to be one everyone in the function embraces in our fast-moving digital world.

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