It’s Procurement Technology Month at Spend Matters UK/Europe

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We haven't done our monthly hot topic for a while, but looking at what is in our pipeline of articles for this month, it seems appropriate to designate April Procurement Technology month.

We're still catching up with some of the stand-out presentations from last month's Spend Matters US / ISM Procurement Tech Summit, and we have had some announcements from key tech firms in recent days that we need to cover. We also have a couple of interesting interviews to come from leaders in the sector, and even some of our public sector coverage this week has a tech flavour.

But for today, some general points about the topic to lead us into more detailed discussion. The first is to emphasise again that in our opinion, you cannot be a credible senior procurement leader without having a decent grasp of what technology can do for you. Yet surprisingly, we still find many CPOs and similar who don't have that grasp and still fail to see how important technology (like it or not) has become for procurement. Such people are the dinosaurs of or industry, roaming around quite happily and totally unaware of the comet rapidly approaching.

Just think of the head-hunter talking to the final two candidates for a £300K CPO role. One talks about driving sourcing through complex optimisation software to generate innovative solutions for the supply market, predictive spend analytics that looks forward as well as backwards, real-time dynamic discounting and end-to-end source-to-pay dashboards that link internal data on every key supplier with multiple sources of external information to assess both risk and value opportunities.

The other says (s)he is a great negotiator, is good with people and just about understands how SAP purchase-to-pay works. Oh yes, they have impressive savings claims from previous jobs - but no evince of a systemised approach to spend and savings measurement, project management tracking or any real evidence to back up their vague assertions. (they don’t read Spend Matters either).

The second point is that even at the recent Spend Matters Procurement Tech Summit, it was a little surprising to hear some very good firms still talking about fairly basic, non-specialist technology support - Excel, or SharePoint for instance. Now they have their place, but our point is this. Don't be discouraged if you do not feel you are at the bleeding edge of procurement tech - very few firms are, even some of those you might assume really must be there already. it's not too late!

Thirdly, we do have concerns that the public sector may be falling further behind private sector best practice. There are exceptions, and for once, the NHS looks encouraging here with some significant initiatives under way and exciting new solutions now actually being used. But our perception is that central and local government in the UK and probably most other countries are not really keeping up with the latest thinking and possibilities in terms of procurement technology.

So, all good reasons for tuning in this month to what we will be featuring here around the technology space – starting later today.

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