Opportunities for procurement in 2013 from “RJ”

Our trends for 2013 – part 2 on procurement developments  drew a very interesting comment from “RJ” – Richard to his friends, we believe...  We’re re-printed it here below, and I totally agree with everything he says, as the opportunities he identifies for procurement are all good ones.

But just to respond to his point about my original article being gloomy – that wasn’t my intent. However, I’m always very sensitive to signs of arrogance or complacency, whether that is in individuals, in organisations, or in professions. If you get those two things together, it is a toxic combination! And I think procurement can be a touch complacent, because we’ve grown so strongly as a profession over the last few years, and we have got much getter at blowing our own trumpet.

So just as a bit of an antidote to that, I think it is worth remembering that not everyone thinks we’re great, not every other function in our organisations likes us, and some colleagues would undoubtedly like to take on at least the sexier elements of our responsibilities! And some organisations are doing away with CPO roles, it’s not just new senior posts being created. So if I do sometimes raise those notes of caution, it is to encourage everyone to guard against that complacency at all times.

But here are Richard’s comments – with thanks for the contribution.

"Blimey, Peter, didn’t expect you to be so downbeat on us all!

With the UK and European economies still bumping along the bottom surely this should be the prime time for Procurement to be taking a lead in driving business performance improvement.

Having said that, I do concur with much of your vision. In particular, I totally agree that measuring procurement performance is critical and that the benefits of real Strategic Relationship Management (please, let’s take the “supplier” tag out of SRM!) and effective Risk Management are rarely understood by buyers and our clients alike. So, yes, let’s kick ourselves in the backside and work on these areas.

Some other positive trends for the profession I see coming out of difficult times are:

  • The continued growth in opportunities to extend the remit beyond the traditional and direct spend. Professional and financial services and outsourced contracts have both been big themes in 2012 and there will be others that crop up in 2013. Some skills enhancement and certainly market knowledge is needed for most Procurement teams to support these new areas but that challenge should be a cause for excitement
  • Procurement’s penetration into new markets: retail organisations waking up to the fact that their fantastic “goods for resale” skills can be applied to other areas of the business, SMEs recognising the value of managing their cost base, legal firms noticing that lawyers don’t earn any revenue while negotiating their firm’s temporary labour contracts: these are all things I encountered in 2012 and which will continue through 2013
  • Procurement outsourcing (in which I declare my vested interest): maybe not a positive trend for some CPOs/senior managers who feel threatened by it but a great opportunity for individuals’ career development and a good way for many firms to tackle difficult markets, “tail spend”, the centralise/de-centralise cycle etc
  • Oh, and finally, I’m surprised you didn’t trumpet your own “Market-informed Sourcing” again: like SRM it’s a big challenge but maybe 2013 will start to see some successes creeping into the public domain and, like you, I think it could be the next wave of, or at least a complement to, category management thinking".

 

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