Deloitte’s CPO Study: Top Takeaways and Separating Out Top-, Bottom- and Mid-Tier Performers

We continue our initial exploration of Deloitte’s 2014 CPO survey today, sharing more takeaways from a recent interview with 2 of the study’s architects, Deloitte’s Brian Umbenhauer, principal and US sourcing and procurement leader, and Ryan Flynn, principal. The conversation brought a number of not-so-surprising findings to light – and at least one zinger. (See the first installment of this series here.)

Spend Matters: What are your big takeaways?

Brian: CPOs are performing well against plan, which is allowing them to look beyond a traditional focus on cost savings toward new priorities such as innovation and growth. However, in order to be effective in these new efforts, teams may want to consider investing in talent and training, including a focus on both hard procurement skills and soft skills. In addition, CPOs should take a broader and more rigorous approach to risk management, as the range of risks encountered by CPOs will increase, even as overall perception of risk decreases. Additionally, CPOs will face risks they had rarely dealt with in the past as procurement’s priorities shift.

Spend Matters: Do the results resonate with what you're seeing in the field?

Brian: For the most part, yes. Clients are struggling to create the internal brand awareness to make procurement a high performing career destination. As a result, we continue to engage with many clients who are looking to continue to bolster the procurement value proposition to their business partners beyond the basic blocking and tackling of pure cost savings. Our global practice continues to be engaged by companies looking to continue to evolve into the procurement organization of the future that we highlighted in our Procurement 2020 paper. Transformation and centralization alone is not the answer.

Spend Matters: The brand awareness effort to make procurement an internal talent destination within companies is curious. But what is separating out top-, mid- and bottom-tier performers? Perhaps more strategic activities are also attracting better talent.

Brian: Absolutely. Top performers are having strong internal engagement and engagement with suppliers. They also have efficient risk management practices. This includes engaging in proactive supplier risk assessment. They’re also involved in strategic decisions such as make vs. buy, new product development and shaping/changing the way services are delivered. These might not be huge surprises for those working with procurement teams everyday.

Stay tuned as our interview with Brian and Ryan continues.


* As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

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