What Worries Procurement Professionals the Most? Trade Comes Out on Top

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Global trade disputes. Automation and job losses. Immigration policies. Which of these three worry procurement the most?

In a survey of 200 procurement professionals recently conducted by Beroe Inc., 55% of the respondents cited trade squabbles as their top concern, reflecting broader anxieties about current political and economic uncertainty.

Trade Disputes

Imagine the havoc caused by a trade breakdown between countries X and Y if your company from Country X happens to source a crucial raw material from a Country Y supplier.

The survey respondents have responded to Brexit and the potential renegotiation of NAFTA by consulting their legal teams about existing contracts, looking for alternate materials and suppliers from alternate regions, and even putting some sourcing decisions on hold. Apart from category analysts, who expressed more worry over automation, trade disputes ranked first across all other experience levels, from purchasing associate up to CPO.

Automation and AI

We know that Elon Musk is concerned about artificial intelligence, going as far as to call it “the most serious threat to the survival of the human race.” But what about the survival of the procurement profession?

Regular Spend Matters readers know that we write a lot about procurement automation. And from the perspectives of both researchers and practitioners, automation promises to do away with those repetitive, boring, but unavoidable tasks like gathering data, freeing up time to focus on more strategic endeavors.

The vast majority of survey respondents (90%) said they agree or strongly agree that automation and AI will “change the way sourcing operations are conducted.” Ninety-six percent said they believe they will need a skills upgrade to keep up with where procurement organizations are headed, although given the speed of technological progress, this seems like a given.

One might wonder who the remaining 4% are who don’t agree with the statement. If you guessed senior procurement staff, you would be correct. When the data are broken down by job title, CPOS, VPs and heads of procurement are more likely to say they do not need to upgrade their skills for the future.


Source: Beroe Inc.

This is a tricky one. While immigration policy does not directly affect sourcing products and services (with the exception of labor), 41% of respondents said that a “change in a country’s immigration policies” would have a small effect on procurement, and only 25% said that there would be no effect at all.

Practitioners from Africa, Australia and Latin America were more likely to say that immigration policy would affect procurement. In general, however, respondents said immigration policy was not a necessary topic to dicuss with suppliers and internal stakeholders: only 8% said they brought it up.

What Worries You?

What procurement worries keep you up at night? Have something you want us to investigate further? Send us a question!

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