Workforce Trends, Millennials and Your Burning Questions: 2017’s Best Practitioner-Centric Articles

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Psst, Reader, want to eavesdrop for a moment on a typical Spend Matters editorial meeting?

We spend a lot of time talking about you, the procurement practitioner.

“What do they truly want to read?” we ask each other. “How do they want to read it? What topics interest them? Do they like their articles long or short, with or without graphics? Are we writing too much about blockchain?” And so on and so forth.

Ultimately, we figured that speculation wouldn’t be as fruitful as, say, just asking readers directly, and so this past summer Ask Spend Matters was born.

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You sent us a lot of great questions, many of which truly made us think. Take Tina Fegent’s question about whether other services procurement areas get as much negative press from suppliers as marketing procurement. As she had put it, “time and time again, the [marketing] trade press slags off procurement.”

As it turns out, procurement gets plenty of bad press in the legal services sector, too. The marketing and legal industries may seem utterly different, but they at least share a hatred of e-auctions. However, if you work in marketing, legal, or other services procurement, don’t fret: there are ways of improving those crucial supplier relationships.

Other popular “Ask Spend Matters” articles this year were Centralized, Decentralized or Hybrid Sourcing Structure: How Do We Decide? and Building Supply Market Intelligence: Which Data Sources are the Best?. The former was submitted by Piyush Shah, a PhD student of supply chain management at Arizona State University, and the latter came from an anonymous reader. We encourage you to check out these articles if you haven’t already, and keep sending us questions!

Talent and Workforce

We began publishing essays in 2017 from practitioners themselves, as we figured there is no one more qualified to speak on topics that are most relevant and timely to the average procurement professional. We kicked off the feature in January with an essay from Rebecca Karp, How I Left the Corporate Office to Run My Own Consultancy.

Fortunately for us (and our readers), Karp continued to contribute her insight on contingent workforce- and talent-related issues throughout the year, and two of her other most-read articles were So You Want to Go Into Procurement Consulting: 3 Areas to Consider and 4 Habits That Can Sink a Procurement Consultant’s Career.

As for the contingent workforce technology market, 2017 certainly saw some major news:

Most of Spend Matters’ contingent workforce coverage is the work of Andrew Karpie, research director of services and labor procurement. And so it’s no surprise that he had a thing or two to say about all the buzzwords in his area of expertise. In The Future of Work is the Gig of Disruption, or: How I Learned to Stop Caring and Get Back to Work, Karpie “selected three [buzzwords] for target practice: the future of work, the gig economy and disruption.”

Millennials in Procurement

This year, Spend Matters also explored what the rise of the millennial generation means for procurement and supply chain. Back in 2015, this group of 20-somethings and 30-somethings had taken over as the largest generation in the U.S. workforce. Meanwhile, the procurement sector is facing a considerable talent gap as baby boomers gradually retire.

In The Millennial CPO: How Will the New Generation Transform the Supply Chain Profession?, Spend Matters spoke to a number of millennials who hold managerial roles in procurement and supply chain, asking them for their predictions on how the profession will evolve. They generally agreed that technology and collaboration will receive greater emphasis, and the structure of work and careers will likely change (think freelancing).

For those who aren’t so keen on job-hopping, and for anyone with an interest in talent retention and management, don’t miss Leandra Taylor’s essay, Scouting and Retaining Young Supply Chain Talent: A (Millennial) Recruiter’s Experience. Taylor is a millennial supply chain professional herself, as well as an ISM/ThomasNet “30 Under 30” Rising Supply Chain Star.

Not all who wrote about millennials were millennials themselves, of course. Spend Matters analyst Tom Finn argued in Millennials Will Transform Procurement — Not By War, But Attrition that this new generation will not only accept, but also expect, constant change.

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