The Future of Procurement – According to Dr Lamoureux

Michael Lamoureux, aka the doctor, as he is known to his friends, is a brilliant guy who works with and writes for our Spend Matters US websites. He also has his own Sourcing Innovation website, which contains pictures of cute cats alongside incisive and often thought-provoking articles about procurement technology and other related issues.

He has written a series of posts recently which refer to our work (speeches, blogs, papers and videos) around "the Future of Procurement" but expand on some of the arguments about that issue - including whether the profession has a future at all. Michael takes the pessimistic view initially, although as his series develops, he starts to promote the more positive outlook.

But his view of how work that has been done by procurement historically is going to migrate away from us or disappear altogether strikes us as spot on. Here is a short extract from his list of tasks that will no longer be required of the procurement professional.

“Why would a modern organization need a purchaser anymore? What did a purchaser do?

He could find the one product you needed in a wall of catalogs in a minute and have it expedited to you the next day.

But with Amazon for Business, Alibaba, and about a dozen vendors offering integrated and federated catalog search capability that will allow the organization to integrate the third party catalogs of all of their suppliers into a single interface, who needs a paper catalog? Who needs to even remember the supplier or the name of the product? Today’s catalogues are heavily laden with meta-data with full search capability and anyone, anywhere, and at any time can use them to find exactly what they need, order it, and get it. No catalog expert needed”.

However, just as in our paper (co-written with Sigi Osagie, and available to download here from the Trade Extensions web-site) we ended on a more positive note, so too does Lamoureux – by the time he gets to part 4 in this series, he is thinking about what procurement can still be doing to add value in the future.

Now we think he may still under-estimate slightly what will be automated – he says, “Milestones for certificates, certifications, and reviews will be set and completed. Purchase orders will be regularly reviewed for completeness, correctness, and appropriate responses”.  We suspect many of those sort of tasks will be done via AI, not by a flesh and blood procurement executive. But he is on more solid ground when he talks about the strategic vision for the “new” procurement.

“Procurement will listen to the needs of the key stakeholders, synthesize them into a cohesive whole, and insure they align with the goals of the business to make sure that the right purchase — not the lowest cost or most readily available — is made every time. They will be strategic leaders that lead the way vs. tactical soldiers that just execute last year’s market plan. And they will generate more value than was ever generated simply by taking 5% (or 10%) off the top”.

Absolutely in agreement there …. Read the doctor’s thoughts here.

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